THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR: Nikolai Gogol (adapted David Harrower).
Nottingham Playhouse and tour
Runs: 2h 35m: one interval: till 14th May.
Performance times: 7.45pm(matinees 2.30pm Sat 7th, 1.30pm Thurs 12th)
Review: Alan Geary: 5th May 2016.
A marvel of a production
Pity the poor drama critic. With this Government Inspector he has to raid the thesaurus for new superlatives – positive ones. Director Roxana Silbert has come up with a truly outstanding production.
The play is wickedly funny textually, with bawdy and earthy dialogue; and it’s farcical. But it’s also a deeply satirical and subversive critique of the Czarist administration. This was dangerous stuff. There’s a gag when a female bawls a line at the top of her voice and the Mayor observes “She’ll never get a job in the Secret Police”. There’s also a disturbing note of realism near the end when a crowd of the non-corrupt dispossessed turn up to demonstrate against the Mayor.
Many of the actors are disabled, and sign language is integrated into the proceedings; it’s part of the fun. Even the surtitles are dragged into the action in a notably funny gag.
Since it’s an ensemble show, the movement has to be and is brilliantly choreographed. From a super tableau at the very start of the play to the last moment it’s expressionist and animated. And individual performances are first-rate; for example, Khlestakov’s downtrodden but wily dogsbody Osip from Michael Keane; and Rebekah Hinds in four roles.
Robin Morrissey’s Khlestakov is masterly. The louche manner and the transition from confused victim of mistaken identity to greedy exploiter of the situation are remarkably well done. So is the long speech before the interval, morphing from a string of hesitant ramblings into a demagogic tirade.
As the Mayor, David Carlyle too is outstanding. He out-Basils Basil Fawlty by a long way. He’s fast-talking, quick-thinking and autocratic. At the same time he’s greedy, conniving, sycophantic and cowardly. Yet, like Khlestakov, he commands our sympathy.
Kiruna Stamell, as the Mayor’s wife, and Francesca Mills, as his daughter, both of them competing to be seduced by Khlestakov, are terrific.
The design, mainly suggestive of a hotel foyer, has an imposing, and comically crucial set of revolving doors centre stage. And the costumes, many of them brightly-coloured comic opera outfits, are a lot of fun.
Not to be missed.
Performer Interpreter: Becky Barry.
Mayor: David Carlyle.
Khlopov: Richard Clews.
Bobchinsky: Stephen Collins.
Dobchinsky: Rachel Denning.
Superintendent/Sergeant’s Wife/Waiter/Legal Clerk: Rebekah Hinds.
Performer Interpreter: Daryl Jackson.
Osip: Michael Keane.
Dr Gibner: Ewan Marshall.
Locksmith’s Wife: Rhona McKenzie.
Maria: Francesca Mills.
Khlestakov: Robin Morrissey.
Anna: Kiruna Stammell.
Zemlyanika: Simon Startin.
Lyapkin-Tyapkin: Jean St Clair.
Postmaster: Sophie Stone.
Mishka/Abdulin: Aaron Virdee.
Audio Describer/Svistunov: Amanda Wright.
Director: Roxana Silbert.
Associate Director: Ewan Marshall.
Designer: Ti Green.
Lighting Designer: Chahine Yavroyan.
Video Designer: Timothy Bird.
Composers/Sound Designers: Ben and Max Ringham.