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The Long, Unlikely Life of An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley Directed by Stephen Daldry Designed by Ian MacNeil Lighting Design by Rick Fisher Music by Stephen Warbeck Associate Director Julian Webber Cast: Liam Brennan Clive Francis Barbara Marten Carmela Corbett Matthew Douglas Diana Payne-Myers Hamish Riddle

In the fall of 1945, British playwright J.D. Priestly and his wife Jane boarded a war-battered Douglas C-47 plane with no seats or seat belts and traveled to Moscow, Russia. Priestly was about to premiere his new play, An Inspector Calls. The play was written in just one week. Unable to find a venue for the production in London, Priestly exported his show over 2,000 miles away to the USSR. The show debuted at the Comedy Theatre in Leningrad where the title translated to “This You Will Not Forget,” at the Kamerny Theatre in Moscow, it was known as as “He Came.”


Original Leningrad Poster


 An Inspector Calls followed its initial successful run abroad with its first performance in London during the 1946 season at the New Theatre, complete with a cast full of highly celebrated British actors such as Ralph Richardson, Margaret Leighton and Alec Guiness. After its run in London in 1946, An Inspector Calls arrived on Broadway where it ran from October 1947 to January 1948 at the Booth Theatre. These performances catapulted this production onto the world stage; it even traveled to the Ferdowsi Theatre in Iran in the late 1940s. The play had a series of popular  revivals long after its original premiere; in the 1980s, the show was performed at two prolific theatres in the United Kingdom—the Royal Exchange in Manchester and the Theatr Clwyd in Wales—with actor Hugh Grant performing in the Manchester production. Since then, the show has been remounted frequently, including a universally acclaimed revival in the 1990s directed by Stephen Daldry with the National Theatre. It is Daldry’s production which is making its triumphant return to the stage in our 2018-2019 Season.

Booth Theater playbill (Oct. 1947)

Daldry’s revivalreceived three Olivier Awards for Best Revival, Best Designer, and Best Director—Daldry was just 31 at the time. In 1994, his [production of An Inspector Calls was brought to Broadway where it had a nearly 500 performance run at the Jacobs Theatre. In addition, the production won four Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play, Best Featured Actress, Best Director, and Best Lighting. It also won seven Drama Desk Awards for Best Supporting Actress, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Director, Outstanding Design, Outstanding Lighting, Outstanding Music, and Outstanding Special Effects.

1992 stage design of Daldry’s production

The unprecedented success of this show has lead many critics to credit Daldry with rediscovering Priestley’s work and solidifying his reputation as one of Britain’s best  playwrights.

This production of An Inspector Calls is the longest running revival of a play in history, seen by over 4 million theatregoers worldwide. Daldry’s production has been called one of “the defining productions of modern British theatre” and has enjoyed six major national tours in the past twenty-five years. In 2010, the show returned to the West End for a limited run, but due to popular demand, the performance dates were significantly extended to accommodate the audience demand. The National Theatre and Stephen Daldry have recently brought the show back to take it on a international tour, which includes its first tour to the U.S. ArtsEmerson is lucky enough to welcome Daldry and An Inspector Calls to the stage of the Cutler Majestic Theatre this spring.

Tickets for An Inspector Calls (MAR 14 – 24, 2019) are on sale today, so be sure to get your tickets to this classic thriller here.

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