Facebook Twitter

Pioneer Theatre Company’s ‘An Inspector Calls’ offers peek at Victorian-era morals

SHARE Pioneer Theatre Company’s ‘An Inspector Calls’ offers peek at Victorian-era morals

"AN INSPECTOR CALLS," through March 5, Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East (801-581-6961 or pioneertheatre.org), running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes (no intermission)

SALT LAKE CITY — Those needing a bit of a “Downton Abbey” fix can check out Pioneer Theatre Company's latest production, “An Inspector Calls.”

Set in 1912 — the same year of the opening season of “Downton” — “An Inspector Calls” has long been considered classic “drawing-room theater” — those works set in the Victorian era that take place mainly in the dining or drawing room.

Considered playwright J.B. Priestley’s most famous work, “Inspector” takes place in the Birling home over the span of one evening.

The beautiful upper middle-class home is filled with merriment as the family celebrates the engagement of the daughter, Sheila, to the very respectable Gerald.

As the ladies retreat to the drawing room to chatter about the upcoming wedding, an inspector pays the family a visit.

There has been a suicide in the town of Brumley, and the inspector has some questions. Though at first no one in the family claims to know the girl, the inspector begins to unravel a very different tale and the family members begin to realize they are closer to the victim than they thought.

Director Mary B. Robinson has assembled a very engaging cast. Often, plays set in one room can begin to feel a bit sluggish, but that is not the case in this dining room. There is enough movement to make things lively, and the script keeps the whodunit nature of the play clipping along.

The ensemble does a marvelous job, but Mia Dillon as the persnickety, never-do-wrong mother is a highlight.

PTC does terrific work with this Victorian-period piece, including the scenic design by Jason Simms, hair and makeup by Amanda French, and beautiful costumes by Carol Wells-Day in her last production before she retires at the end of the season.

“An Inspector Calls” is not just a fun mystery set in a beautiful period. It is also a wonderful examination of social classes, privilege and how we treat each other and why — perhaps a timely reminder in a politically heated year.

Erica Hansen was the theater editor at the Deseret News for more than three years. An area performer, she was also the original host of the radio program "Showtune Saturday Night."