*** Deft updating of J.B. Priestley's curious time play
The theatre where Priestley's An Inspector Calls ran for five years now hosts a fine production of its less focused sister piece.
Until the closing minutes, indeed, there is no real indication that this is one of the writer's "time plays": it seems a relatively straightforward unravelling of sexual and romantic entanglements, theft and death among three young couples, the brother of one of whom died a year earlier. The revelations are constructed with Priestley's flair for gradually uncovering complex situations, but in terms of mood there is little to lift it above the level of an exceptionally knotty "adultery in NW3" play, until the final timeslip reveals that his concern all along has been with the damage of truthfulness versus the reassurance of lies or silence.
Director Laurie Sansom has discreetly synthesized the English and American editions of the original text and removed some embarrassing archaisms. Rupert Penry-Jones gives a fine performance as a man too buttoned-up to accept the vagaries of the world, and is matched by newcomer Katie Foster-Barnes as an unexpectedly flinty and manipulative ingénue; however, Jacqueline Pearce overplays the diva card in the scenes which bookend the main action. Overall, too, the production is impressive but oddly fails to grip.
Written for divento.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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