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An Inspector will be Calling at Theatre Severn
12 Sep 2022

An interview with the Stars

We spoke to George Rowlands, who will play Eric Birling and Evlyne Oyedokun, who plays his sister Sheila Birling in the National Theatre's landmark production of An Inspector Calls, coming soon at Theatre Severn (Sept 20 - 24). 

It's great news for GCSE students in Shropshire that An Inspector Calls is coming to Theatre Severn this September. There's no better way to get a handle on a play than to see it on stage! 

And for a bit of inside info about the characters and the play, to help you write those English Literature papers, here's an interview (see below) with two of the cast members. 

David Jack, Venues & Programme manager at Theatre Severn, said: "We’re thrilled to welcome the cast of An Inspector Calls back to Shrewsbury. We know a lot of students will be studying JB Priestley’s classic thriller as part of their GCSE English exams so this is a fantastic opportunity for young people to experience the live adaptation on stage. If you’ve not had chance to see this gripping production, make sure to book up soon - this is a must-see for a whole new generation of theatregoers!"

Tickets are £11.50-£40.50 available HERE

George Rowlands in An Inspector Calls shown in rehearsal

Did you study An Inspector Calls at school? If so, did you enjoy it?

George: I did read it at school, although I can’t really remember much of it. But I did always like it. I always think at school when you sit down and analyse every single word it can make you go a bit crazy, and I always thought it ruined books and plays. But now that I’m an adult, or more importantly now that I’m an actor, I definitely have more of an appreciation for it.

Evelyne: I actually didn’t study An Inspector Calls at school, I studied To Kill A Mockingbird. I’d heard about An Inspector Calls but I didn’t really know what it was, or really anything about it. It wasn’t until I got this audition that I actually read the play for the first time, and I still didn’t quite understand it. It took me a while to realise how many layers this play actually has.

What do you think makes this play so timeless and this production so engaging?

Evelyne: It’s set across three timelines – you’ve got 1912 which is where the play is set, then you’ve got the future, which is the Blitz, 1945, and then you’ve also got the current now, 2022. It’s amazing. You’re flicking through the past, present and the now constantly, and it’s so reflective on humanity so it makes it so relevant, and people can really see themselves.

George: At the end of the day, at its centre it’s a play about somebody in distress, and that doesn’t get old, does it? I think at different points in time when we’ve put it on over the last 30 years, it’s been relevant. And this time around I think it’s more relevant than ever because of what’s going on in terms of the strike action and housing crisis.

An inspector calls - shown in rehearsals

Tell us three facts about your character?

George: Eric is well educated because he’s been sent to public school. He enjoys a drink, probably a little bit too much. The third fact is that Eric really wants to be respected by, namely his dad. Unfortunately, the combination of those three facts results in some pretty catastrophic things.

Evelyne: Three facts about Sheila… well she’s absolutely besotted with Gerald. She is very self-absorbed and in her own world, as she’s been brought up that way. She absolutely adores clothes. It’s hard to give facts without spoiling it!

If you could swap roles with another actor, which character would you be?

Evelyne: If I had to be someone out of all the characters it would definitely be the inspector, because I’m obsessed with crime documentaries and serial killers, everything to do with murder, unsolved murder, unsolved mysteries, death row, all of that! I’ve pretty much seen everything and I re-watch it to go to sleep.

George: If I could pick any character I’d probably pick Edna. I would love to play the role of Edna. If you haven’t seen this production, there’s a special thing that Edna is part of - a little bit of magic. She’s amazing. My second choice would be Mrs Birling. I really like Mrs Birling, she’s got such sass, and doesn’t have the insecurities that Eric is stuck with.

What made you want to be an actor?

Evelyne: From a young age I never really spoke – I was pretty much mute to people I didn’t really know. My mum advised me to go and see a youth company at the weekends. Drama school taught me how to speak, and acting taught me how to be more of a human than I ever was.

George: I like storytelling and I like the creative and artistic aspect of it. With this production it has enabled that part of acting, and it’s been a really good creative process.

What’s the best part of about going on tour?

Evelyne: It’s exciting to share a relevant story with so many people. We come to you guys, and you stay where you are.

George: Being able to play in these amazing theatres, I’m really excited to do that, and bringing the story to people.