Review: An Inspector Calls *****

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Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Those who didn’t realise that An Inspector Calls was on the GCSE syllabus probably had quite a shock when they arrived at the Alhambra on Tuesday night to find it packed to the rafters with over-excited teenagers.

“They’re like exuberant puppies,” said the woman seated to my left as the chattering and giggling reached its crescendo.

What she left unsaid was what every adult was thinking: “Will their attention spans last the full one hour and 50 minutes... without an interval?”

They did and that really does say it all about this magnificent production. Teens are the harshest of critics but there was barely a murmur or a fidget just involuntary “oohs” and “ahhs” as the actors led us through a plot that twisted and turned to its spooky conclusion.

It proved once again that director Stephen Daldry was right to take on JB Priestley’s play. When Daldry revealed that it would be his National Theatre debut in 1992, the world thought he’d gone mad. First performed in 1945, it had done the rounds a thousand times. What was he thinking?

He was probably thinking that An Inspector Calls is a great story. It makes you think, leaves you to draw your own conclusions and opens the door for discussion.

Set in 1912 in a single room, it’s brought to life by a clever set, atmospheric special effects and faultless acting. The end was greeted with wolf whistles and wild applause. Thank goodness for the exuberance of youth.