The play is best known these days for a 1992 London revival in which director Stephen Daldry reconceived the work with heightened theatricality, including a mansion which imploded before the audience’s eyes as the Birlings’ protestations of innocence crumbled. At the Maltz, director J. Barry Lewis conjures up a lowkey equivalent, as the wellappointed dining room interior self-destructs and the blue sky overhead eerily, slowly darkens.
Lewis orchestrates a topnotch cast with a heightened, histrionic performance style, including frequent direct addresses to the audience as if we were a jury sitting in judgment over them.
The company is led by burly James Andreassi – last seen locally in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ “The Little Foxes” – who brow-beats the Birlings into confessing their links to the dead woman who used several aliases. If it strikes you that he behaves unlike any prudent policeman, you are on to something, one of Priestley’s many rug-pulling plot twists.
Rob Donohoe is all bluster as Arthur Birling, incensed at Goole’s impertinence. As his wife Sybil, Angie Radosh is even more imperious, with a haughty stare that would make a lesser inspector quiver. Charlotte Bydwell’s Sheila is the most sympathetic to the dead girl, even after she learns of her fiance’s ( Jeremy Webb) illicit relationship with her. Cliff Burgess is tuxedo suave as young Eric Birling, heir to the family business, which makes his unnerving all the more palpable. And keep an eye on the stolid servant staff, led by Elizabeth Dimon as their inscrutable major-domo.
As usual, the Maltz design work is first-rate, from Tracy Dorman’s well-starched formal wear to Kirk Bookman’s harsh lighting to Marty Mets’ ominously rumbling soundscape.
The Maltz Jupiter may always be known for its musicals, but the skill and care it gives to producing plays is evident in “An Inspector Calls.” The bad news: the brief run through Sunday is said to be completely sold out. But be persistent and hang out by the box office for a last-minute cancellation.