Newest Review: ... the 'who dunnit?' play, when really the joke is on them. Wilde was a pure genius at the craft, while the lesser known playwright J B Pri... more
Our frayed Humanity
An Inspector Calls - J.B. Priestley
Member Name: 1st2thebar
An Inspector Calls - J.B. Priestley
Date: 18/11/12, updated on 18/11/12 (124 review reads)
Advantages: Deals with modern political matters from the last century - clever narrative.
Disadvantages: Not quite a Wilde, then again not a bad thing.
(This Review Contains No Spoilers!)
Arthur Birling, owner of a successful mill, and politician - head of the house.
Sybil Birling, elderly pompous lady, who spends her time meddling about with a Women's Charity - Mother to Sheila and Eric Birling.
Eric Birling, the black sheep of the family - his best friend is the bottle, which in-turn makes him squiffy and so he seeks out services of hard-up prostitutes, who're eager to grab his wad.
Sheila Birling, graced with feminine charm and an elfin feature - she uses both attributes simultaneously. A notable intelligence and goes for what she wants - FiancÚ to Gerard Croft.
Gerald Croft, a well accomplished gentleman, heir to the very successful family business who is Birling's competitor - Holds the dice to this game of monopoly.
Inspector Goole, an entity of mystery, and the voice of reason - he'd be doing over-time if he embarked on his job in this era.
Eva Smith, or is it Birling? Questionable liaisons indeed - there's more to Eva than meets the eye, not that you see her, of course. It's only a play, right?
- - - -
Dramatists brazenly state; 'Life is like a play, we merely go through the stages of our life acting it out;' from, 'As You Like it' - (William Shakespeare - 1600) Their well performed vocal conveys one of a deep thinking philosopher until you realise: "Isn't that from Shakespeare?" Priestley's, 'An Inspector Calls' takes it another stage on; as he amalgamates social etiquette and political persuasion onto a plate of Edwardian bumptiousness - you've got to admire Priestley's audacity as he chooses to uncover the sorry fiasco in the melodrama of stage. Priestley was the Hilary Mantel of contemporary literature in the mid 1940's, not duly for being a double 'Man Booker' prize winner but for portraying a bygone era - the year is 1912 and this is a time whereby the bourgeois was material for plays watched by the actual subjects and liked; which often left a big smirk on the face of the creator - Priestley was no different. There is something incedibly satisfying seeing the 'toffs' enjoying the 'who dunnit?' play, when really the joke is on them. Wilde was a pure genius at the craft, while the lesser known playwright J B Priestley embroidered suspense / intrigue into the narrative frame to make up for his insipid joviality. British culture and social etiquette wet the creative appetite for capitalistic orientated plays - many authors at the beginning of the twentieth century dipped into class and politics, and unearthing remarkable classics in the process.
A common starter for these classics during this era was to slowly break into the narrative at the dinner table, an elegant one at that, in a large suburban villa in Brumley (Industrial town in North Midlands) - Dining was an opportunity of boastful converse and announcements that usually gets the mandatory gentry 'pat on the back' and illustrious plaudit; followed by a raucous, 'guffaw of delight' - Priestley structures the play with three acts - Act 1, Act 2 and Act 3 - Where two affluent families are joined via engagement: Gerald Croft to Sheila Birling - Birling and Croft are two competitive local business empires destined for marital bliss, so it seems. Bed-partners - and puts a new spin on, 'sleeping with the enemy'. An occasion to be squiffy, meaning (intoxicated), which Eric Birling knows far too much about, as he samples the socially forbidden fruits from the street corner - right under the toff nosed gaze of his Mother whom is too engrossed in 'keeping up appearances' Bouquet style, to take note. "Oh how spiffing, a licence to be squiffy and have a whiff of the 'iffy" - Cue Arthur Birling, head of the Birling household, Mill owner and politician speaks of the importance of integrity and having no skeleton in the closet in modern public life, to Gerald Croft (his impending son-in-law) - 'What a family!' pipes up Gerald - when suddenly a sharp knock at the door disturbed the jolly ambiance.
Enter, Inspector Goole; his grave, ash toned face looked the same shade of grey as the smog outside - he is no fool, but he stares at five of them - Goole is a cross between, Peter Falk's Columbo and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, excluding the Simon Cowell hairline and 'Frank N Stein's' stiff knee-joints. His eerie gravely tone stated he was investigating the death of an Eva Smith, a working class girl who fell into bad company. The departed knew of the Birling family as written in her own hand - identifying, shall we say testing times with the Birlings. It has come to my knowledge each Birling had a valid reason to get rid of Eva. "Eva you did, or didn't!" - Goole embarks on his accusations to Art Birling - "Have yee mastered the 'art' of murder as well as making a killing in business?" - Birling claimed he knew of an Eva Smith who he employed eighteen months ago but fired her because of her involvement in a worker's strike. Of course it was justifiable and he did no wrong-doing. Eva was purely a crushed prawn in the salty sea of capitalism - a result of a plethora of tears from a plethora of working class Eva's. Sheila Birling, it was sheer jealousy of a pretty little mite, a fierce demand of, 'wanting to be the fairest of them all'. "Eva you've got it, or you ain't love - and you ain't!" - Edwardian ladies of a higher social standing do not warrant their beauty compromised via the likes of an ordinary Smith. Goole's stare got caught in Sybil Birling's throat, she couldn't ignore it as she would normally, she had to choke out she had encountered Eva while she was sticking her nose in at the 'Women's Charity' for under-privileged women who were destitute and needed financial help. Sybil croaked that the charity didn't serve to the likes of Eva Smith, thus Smith's application inevitably was denied. At this point, Goole revealed Eva Smith had an alias: Daisy Renton. "Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do" - Gerald announces he'd interacted with a female of that name in the local theatre bar and had given her money on a pretence he'd engage in extra curriculum activities as his mistress in waiting. "I'm half crazy all for the love of you." On that data, Sheila smelt a rat and promptly ends the Birling / Croft alliance. "There won't be any marriage". Mr. Squiffy wanting a 'whiffy of the iffy' alias; Eric Birling indeed was prompted by Goole to make his confession of impregnating a lady fitting the description of Renton or Smith. Either one, he didn't know the difference, too inebriated to take note of names - Only a desperate soul who had hit rock bottom would've succumbed to a rich drunk's advances. Eva / Daisy's demise all devised by the rich tapestry of the Birling lifestyle. "You knew she was pregnant didn't you Mrs Birling? - "Your precious boy, impregnating the likes of her, how disgusting, eh Mrs Birling!" - The difference is - "she'd look sweet, upon the seat, of a bicycle made for two; as for you Eric, you will always look squiffy". As the ghoulish interrogation drew to a close, the Birlings turned on each other. 'Dog eats Dog' - capitalism in full flow. During the blame games, Inspector Goole drifted off into the smog. Goole, speaks to the audience; 'Actions have their consequences'.
Act 3, employs twists and turns; that begs the question who was Inspector Goole? Gerald Croft has news that lifts the intensity momentarily in the Birling household. There was an understanding that normality had descended, 'Moonshine' was flowing and the Birlings had repented to mend their ways, albeit Sheila still hadn't given the Birling / Croft alliance the green light, Croft hoped she would change her mind. "An Affair is an affair - ravaging a whiffy iffy, is worse than ravaging an iffy!" And there is nothing worse than that, in the mind of an Edwardian lady of a certain social standing. Such lurid acts will take time to forget. On the surface, normality had descended inside the Birling villa. 'What a family!' pipes up Gerald - when suddenly a sharp ring from the telephone disturbed the jolly ambiance. Not all is what it seems.
This is Priestley's message to the developed world, done in a Hitchcockian style for impetus. An adaptation in 1992 from Daldry's awe inspiring screen production makes Priestley very relevant today. The term: "we're all innit together?" - proves we haven't learned anything about the nature of capitalism and what history tells us. No Goole could knock on so many doors - Highly recommended.
Summary: Highlighting the delusional habits of capitalism and humanity.
More reviews in the field of Non-Fiction Book
- Phantoms in the Brain: fascinating!
- Charlie Brooker delivering what he promises
- Enjoy my Rev stew. Review! Damn You Autocorrect!
- Back to the past
- A few useful tips, but not for me overall.
- HEARTBREAK in 'HEART FULL OF LIES', by Ann Rule.
- How to make black gold in the garden
- Vegetables for the history books
- The Myway Code - Dan Kieran & Ian Vince
- The Little Book of Great Britain - Neil R Storey
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families - Stephen Covey
- Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large - Koolhaus, Mau
- Official Hollyoaks Babes Calendar 2012
- Official Kelly Brook A3 Calendar 2012
- Official The Simpsons Calendar 2012
- Official Phineas and Ferb Calendar 2012