An Inspector Calls and Other Plays contains, as you might have guessed, An Inspector Calls as well as Time and the Conways, I Have Been Here Before, and the Linden Tree. Of the collection, An Inspector Calls stands head and shoulders above the rest but they are all of a high standard.
Time and the Conways and I Have Been Here Before both deal with time, fate and free will, but of the two I definitely enjoyed the latter the most. The former sees us meeting a family amidst some sort of party in which charades are being played, meeting the young people of the family and hearing of their hopes and dreams for the future, before a flash forward shows us what became of those hopes and dreams. I Have Been Here Before sees a random group of people fetching up at an inn for the weekend, but one of the travellers seems to know who’s going to be there and what’s going to happen, and wants to find out if foreknowledge can change fate.
An Inspector Calls is the third play in the book, in which a well-to-do family are called upon by an inspector wishing to understand the suicide of a young, working class woman. As it soon becomes clear that each and every one of the party had their own devastating effects upon the life and chances of the woman, some feel contrite and ashamed whilst others simply clamour to hush up their parts in her death to avoid any societal blame or consequences. Examining the changes going on within society after the war and the idea of community and how our actions affect others, this play was simply superb even before it got twisty.
And finally, we finish with The Linden Tree in which a professor reaching retirement age is gently bullied by his family into changing his life into the one they want for him.
The opening and ending plays would have garnered themselves three star ratings on their own, with I Have Been Here Before getting a four and An Inspector Calls a five, so I’m going to split the difference and call the collection a four.