4th Street Theater proudly presents An Inspector Calls, a play by JB Priestley, first performed in 1945, but as relevant today as it was then. This moral fable will tug at both your conscience and your heartstrings. It will leave you questioning your own views on social responsibility. Bring your moral compass with you. This is a classic take of good versus evil, but with a mix of comedy and death, and poverty versus wealth. Secrets are revealed, sins are confessed, and ideologies are challenged. Decide for yourself whether or not we are responsible to treat each other with good will.
The play follows the members of the wealthy Birling family in 1912, during the genteel Edwardian era. As the family is enjoying a get together in their posh home, the Inspector calls upon them. In what ensues as a type of medieval game of Clue, each family member is called to task for their role in the suicidal death of a young woman named Eva Smith. One by one, each family member is questioned, and it is revealed that each person present has contributed in some way to Eva's sad and untimely demise. Eva had previously worked in Arthur Birling's mill and was fired for her involvement in an abortive workers' strike. Sheila Birling had contrived to have Eva fired from her job in a local department store over an imagined slight. Gerald, Sheila’s fiancé, had met Eva while she was using the alias, Daisy Renton. After helping her out financially, he began a sordid affair with her and then ended it abruptly, leaving her heartbroken. This news does not go over well with his fiancé, Sheila. Sybil Birling, the head of a local women’s charity, had turned the destitute Eva away when she came seeking help. And, finally, Eric Birling’s clandestine affair with the girl is exposed. After reminding the Birlings that all actions have consequences and that all people in a society are intertwined, Inspector Goole warns the family, "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn from that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." An allusion to the impending war.
Director, Sandy Assarian, invites you to take this journey and explore the unseen. She views the play as a representation of the wanton disregard for our fellow man and, perhaps, a fundamental reason for the discontent that leads to conflict in our society. "Man has behaved this way since the beginning of time. Nothing new. He will probably continue this way until the end of time." The surrealistic works of art on stage are variations of Rene Magritte's, Son of Man. "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in what is hidden and which the invisible doesn't show us." Rene Magritte 1898-1967. She uses Freya’s Golden Tears by Gustav Klimpt to represent the dead girl, Eva. Assarian further suggests that the Birlings appear, at first, to be innocent people who are gathered together to celebrate a typical family event. They appear to be civic minded, successful and well off. However, the play exposes another side of them, the side that lives isolated in their own black and white "box" where they care only for themselves and their selfish wants and desires, blind to how their actions affect others and the world around them.
As always, talented local artists abound and never disappoint at 4th Street Theater. Cast members are Janet Flood-Cole of Minneapolis as Sybil Birling, Dean Johanson of Griffith as Arthur Birling, Thomas Olsen of Valparaiso as Edward the Butler, Larry Piotrowski of Hanna as Inspector Goole, Emmie Reigel of Chesterton as Sheila Birling, George Romero of Valparaiso as Gerald Croft, Joe Synakiewicz of Dyer as Eric Birling.
The show is directed and designed by Sandra Assarian of Chesterton with lighting and sound design by Angela Heid of Kingsford Heights and costumed by Stanlee Hodsden of Valparaiso. Denise Barkow of Chesterton is Stage Manager and assistant to the director. Sandra credits the amazing production team at 4th Street Theater who are David Pifko, Kevin Doler, Kathy Markwart, Laura Blythe, Suzi Chomel, Linda Pauli, Jude Tanter, Laura Sullivan and Mark McColley. “They make the magic happen.”
Performances are June 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, and 19. Sunday performances are at 3:00 pm. All others are at 8:00 pm. 4th Street Theater is located at 125 N. 4th Street Chesterton. For reservations call (219) 926-7875 or reserve online at https://4thstreetncca.com/tickets/