Dramas involving the British upper class contending with the troublesome commoners beneath them have proven popular over the years. Will the privileged few finally get their comeuppance? Or will the established order prevail?

Director Brian P. Allen has brought a classic of the genre to Good Theater for a pre-holiday run. Set in 1912, J.B. Priestley’s “An Inspector Calls” offers suspense with a twist while simultaneously deconstructing stuffy elitism. Though a few odd moments of melodrama along with touches of eccentricity among the characters drew chuckles from the otherwise rapt audience on opening night, Priestley’s message of a need for social change came through loud and clear.

The titular inspector drops in on an engagement party at the home of the well-to-do Birlings. The family, consisting of patriarch Arthur Birling, his haughty wife, Sybil, and their two adult children, Sheila and Eric, soon have their celebration overturned by the unexpected visitor. Also present is Sheila’s well-heeled fiancé, Gerald Croft.

The somber Inspector Goole brings news of the suicide of a destitute young woman who, we gradually learn, may have links to all the partiers. Can members of such fine families bear responsibility for the young woman’s demise? The elders fight hard to steer clear of any public scandal, while the younger generation begins to recognize its true plight.

A stellar cast of local actors brings this left-leaning 1945 play to life.

Tony Reilly, as the initially affable senior Birling, deepens his growl as he tries to stave off the “nasty mess” that threatens his reputation. His verbal confrontations with the inspector offer a series of jolts that punctuate the many interweaving lines of exposition along the play’s narrative path.

James Noel Hoban delivers the inspector’s unusually penetrating observations with a spookily mesmerizing countenance, effectively advancing a sense of mystery on several levels. His colloquies with Thomas Ian Campbell, as the hard-drinking son, and Christopher Holt, as the condescending fiancé, test the inspector’s patience as the two grudgingly acknowledge their weaknesses.

Amy Roche, as mother Sybil, radiates a plucky indignation as she defends her character’s lack of compassion. Meredith Lamothe shows how daughter Sheila’s emotionality ultimately leads to insight. Heather Elizabeth Irish rounds out the cast as a dutiful maid at the mercy of the Birlings.

The detailed period set by Steve Underwood, lighting by Iain Odlin and costumes by Justin Cote combine with the well-portrayed attitudes and accents of the play’s milieu for a production that is likely to delight fans of vintage theater.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.