FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Repertory Theatre has taken the 1945 thriller, ‘An Inspector Calls,” hoisted it onto the stage, and given it deep new meaning and understanding.

It shines a light on the need for social justice, class inequality, and tolerance that should leave all who see it questioning their own morality at a time our own social and political climate is center stage.

This production is under the talented hand of director Michael Marotta who allows us to take a seat at the Birling Family table for an in-your-face reality check, which effectively makes everyone attending examining their own daily actions and how they can impact others.

This J.B. Priestly play is set in 1912 just before World War I which crippled the British Empire but don’t let the preface fool you into believing this is an old fashioned thriller, as it is anything but.

The show begins with society’s less desirables watching from the streets as the Birling family is celebrating their daughter’s engagement inside their upper-middle-class home. A mysterious inspector abruptly crashes the party to inform the family that a young woman has just committed a horrible suicide. Unbeknownst to each of the family members, they all appear to have had some tie to the young woman, which may have lead to her death.

Using the victim’s diary, the elusive inspector begins to unravel bizarre coincidences and chance meetings that leave some family members feeling responsible and shattered for the young ladies’ misery, while others completely deny any guilt.

This self-described perfect family fears they could somehow be culprits in this set of unfortunate circumstances and fears the odd and looming Inspector Goole could ruin them.
Every actor in this show turned in a powerful performance with convincing and strong emotions of shock, guilt, and denial. It’s this level of acting that demands a show become real life for each of us and even perhaps force us to examine our own conscience. Two thumbs up for Kate Hampton, Cole Francum, Ellen Heald, William McNulty, Brendan Powers, and Bailey Tyler.

However, it is perhaps the mysterious Inspector played by V Craig Heidenreich, whose job it is to deliver the most powerful blow to the gut for each of us, also known as, the most powerful line of the show.

He said, “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 that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.” The stage then fades to black, and he exits the stage.

The hardy applause is proof enough that Heidenreich perfectly delivered each word with the right amount of timing, passion, and emotion that should leave everyone understanding the meaning of the show and its relevance today.

But it’s what happens next that will leave many jaws dropping and heads shaking after the inspector leaves. I don’t like to give away shows and plots so I encourage you to go see the show, and not be left out on this one.

It is by far the best thriller I have seen in many years. It is without a doubt a gripping production that will overwhelm the senses.

The entire crew, including the magnificent grand-scale set design by Dennis Maulden, should be proud of this production.

An Inspector Calls runs through December 22. Click here for more information about tickets and showtimes.

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