London.: Government Inspector: To July 9, 2011
Posted by: Carole Woddis on June 10, 2011 – 16.00pm
by Nikolai Gogol adapted by David Harrower.
Young Vic Theatre 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 8 July 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed, Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 9 July 2.30pm.
Captioned 7 July.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Carole Woddis 9 June.
Russian satire that’s not very evidently Russian.
Author Nikolai Gogol’s life was not a happy one yet the posthumous appeal of his plays endures. Every few years Government Inspector (1836), universally regarded as his masterpiece, crops up in the repertoire.
A `group’ play that offers scathing satire on small-town bureaucracy and corruption through a gallery of `types’ – judge, doctor, postmaster and school-superintendent – at its centre is a performer’s gift, Khlestakov, the unknown gambler mistaken for a high-up St Petersburg official. Fêted by the mayor, his wife and local bigwigs, in his cups Khlestakov winds himself up into an extravagant fantasist’s delirium, boasting of connections to everyone.
In the past Khlestakov has been played by a show stopping Paul Scofield (RSC 1966) in a blonde wig and in 2005 at the NT by Michael Sheen as a very funny south London estate agent, digging around for cheap properties in post-communist Europe.
Richard Jones’ revival in this new, unbridled David Harrower translation brings us Kyle Soller. With flaming red hair and a body like a coiled spring, he adds more than touch of mania to his star turn. “I am everywhere!” he exclaims, triumphant in self-delusion.
A kind of Billy Liar, petulant, arrogant, vulnerable and charming, he is the ultimate young dilettante and con-man who, having tasted the metropolitan high life and `art’ will do anything to avoid returning to his landowning father’s grubby peasant estate – Quel horreur!
Around him, Jones has assembled a gallery of colourfully eccentric provincial personalities. As with past productions, this one carries a garish, hallucinatory quality as if viewing events through a mad looking glass.
Chief amongst its delights is Smack the Pony’s Doon Mackichan as the Mayor’s deliriously over-lustful wife – a vision in purple taffeta and silver leopard skin – whilst Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh) delivers a slightly one-dimensional stand-up turn as the Mayor. 20th-century British TV comedy meets 19th-century East European grotesquerie, you might say.
Good knockabout fun, Government Inspector has much to say to us about fawning, corruption and self interest. Jones’ enjoyable production however is satire in the abstract. Cultural or political context is sadly and strangely missing here.
Mayor: Julian Barratt.
Dr Gibner/Waiter/Shopkeeper: Steven Beard.
Maria, mayor’s daughter: Louise Brealey.
Dobchinsky: Jack Brough.
Bobchinsky: Fergus Craig.
Avdotya/Locksmith’s Wife: Buffy Davis.
Osip/Policeman: Callum Dixon.
Postmaster/Sergeant’s Widow: Amanda Lawrence.
Anna, the Major’s Wife: Doon Mackichan.
Judge/Shopkeeper: Bruce MacKinnon.
Head of Hospitals/Shopkeeper: Eric MacLennan.
School Superintendent/Shopkeeper: Simon Müller.
Mishka/Shopkeeper: Graham O’Mara.
Khlestakov: Kyle Soller.
Police Superintendent/Shopkeeper: David Webber.
Director: Richard Jones.
Design: Miriam Buether.
Lighting: Mimi Jordan Sherin
Sound/Music: David Sawer.
Voice: Barbara Houseman.
Dialect: Michaela Kennen.
Costume: Nicky Gillibrand.
Wig/Make-Up: Campbell Young.
Russian Literary Consultant: Helen Rappaport.
Assistant director: Andy Brunskill.
Associate sound: Dominic Bilkey.
A Young Vic/ Warwick Arts Centre co-production.
First performance of this production of at Warwick Arts Centre 23 May 2011, at the Young Vic, 3 June 2011.