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Monday 13 January 2020

Interview: Actress Christine Kavanagh On Why You Must See Stephen Daldry's Production Of An Inspector Calls @ Theatre Royal Brighton

Ahead of Stephen Daldry's seminal production of JB Priestley's classic thriller An Inspector Calls, which heads to Theatre Royal Brighton, next month, The Brighton Magazine features an enlightening chat with Christine Kavanagh, who plays 'Mrs Birling'.


Christine's National Theatre credits include Man and Superman and Albert Speer and the National Theatre UK Tour of Hedda Gabler. Her West End credits include The Importance of Being Earnest

With the Royal Shakespeare Company Christine has performed Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing. 

Q/ Could you tell us a little about who you play in An Inspector Calls, and how she fits into the plot?

Christine Kavanagh: I play Mrs Birling, the wealthy matriarch of the family, she is rather imperious and intransigent and controlling, a class snob, and fiercely protective of her favourite and youngest child, her son Eric. 

Like all the family members in the play, she is taught a harsh lesson in a dramatic and terrifying way. 

The Inspector seems innocuous but is in fact ruthless and in him, Mrs Birling meets her match.

Q/ You've been part of the show before, what made you want to return to the role? 

Christine Kavanagh: Great parts for women of a certain age are hard to find and this is a terrific role, she has some wonderful scenes with the Inspector and courtesy of the creative team of Ian McNeill set and costume designer, Rick Fishers lighting and Stephen Daldry's direction she has one of the  best entrances in the theatre. 

Plus, her dress has to be seen to be believed.

Not forgetting the wonderful music by Stephen Warbecks music that provides, what feels like a film score beneath the action. 

The music is thrilling, moving and exciting.

Q/ Why do you think An Inspector Calls has stood the test of time, and is still such a loved story?

Christine Kavanagh: Great plays usually have a great message, and a timeless lesson for us all. 

The notion that 'we are all responsible for each other' to quote the Inspector is particularly relevant today, given our political climate, and the 'me too' movement, and the plight of the homeless and disaffected, all of these themes are addressed in this play.

Priestley believes that actions have consequences. You need to see the production to appreciate the craft of his storytelling, it's a thriller, and a 'who dunnit' brilliantly told. 


Q/ What is it about Stephen Daldry's production that makes it so special? 

Christine Kavanagh: Everything makes it special, Daldry broke the mold with this production.

No kid gloves or fusty drawing room drama rules apply here, the gloves are literally off in terms of the production, the performance style and the ingenious, breathtaking award winning set designed by Ian McNeil.

Q/ The show is popular with young people studying the play at school, what additional elements do you think seeing it told on stage can bring? 

Christine Kavanagh: There is nothing better that seeing a play live they are meant to be performed and experienced not read. 

The clarity of the production helps students understand nuances of the plot and the characters. 

The production is fast paced and thrilling, so they are kept on the edge of their seats with new information and gear changes. 

The play is still relevant today and provides thought provoking discussion long after the curtain as fallen.

Q/ Have you ever been given a piece of advice or some words of wisdom that have stuck with you over the years? 

Christine Kavanagh: Oscar Wilde once said 'Be yourself, everyone else is taken' which is not bad advice especially for all the hooked on social media - comparisons are odious, there is only one you - so make the most of it. 

Loving kindness goes a long way in life and a sense of humour always helps.

Staring alongside Christine are Liam Brennan, Jeff Harmer, Alasdair Buchan, Chloe Orrock, Ryan Saunders and Diana Payne-Myers.

The cast is completed by Michael Ross, Portia Booroff, Elissa Churchill and Jonathan Davenport.  

An Inspector Calls at Theatre Royal Brighton from Tuesday 25th – Saturday 29th February 2020. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley




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