City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Government Inspector Review


By Irene Brown - Posted on 11 March 2010

5
The Government Inspector
Show Details
Venue: 
Traverse Theatre
Company: 
Communicado and Tron Theatre
Production: 
Nikolai Gogol (writer), Adrian Mitchell (adaptation), Gerry Mulgrew (director), Jessica Brettle (designer), Sergey Jakovsky (lighting designer), Jenny Lӧӧf,(wardrobe supervisor), Suzie Normand (production/technical manager), Fran Craig (stage manager), Lorna Duguid (producer), Alasdair Macrae (musical director), Malcolm Shields (movement director)
Performers: 
John Bett (Governor), Cliff Burnett (Health and Education Commissioner),Andy Clark ( Khlestakov), Tim Licata (Dobchinsky), Alasdair Macrae (Postmaster/Osip), Kirstin McLean (Governor’s Daughter), Mark Prendergast(Dobchinsky), Malcolm Shields (Judge), Gerda Stevenson (Governor’s Wife), Lewis Anderson (Musician/Mishka)
Running time: 
155mins

Communicado really knows how to put on a show. There’s music, singing, dancing, drama, comedy, fabulous costumes, imaginative effects, and terrific acting - aa in the wan gless. Oh, and a message. How good is that?

Their latest production, The Government Inspector, is done in their usual gallus style of rehearsed rumbustiousness and delivered in fine vernacular Scots by several of the characters, particularly John Bett’s Governor.  His switching from colourful colloquial Scots to ‘bool in the mooth’ Kelvinside was a joy. 

This version of Gogol’s 1835 play was adapted by the late Adrian Mitchell, to whom this performance is dedicated and was performed by the National Theatre in 1985, starring Rik Mayall. While I can imagine Mayall playing Khlestakov, the penniless work shy fop from St Petersburg who will neither work nor want, I cannot believe he did it in Scots or pretend to have composed a Burns’ poem so am unsure who to give the credit to for the rich and comic language in this current version. 

The theme of mistaken identity has been a vehicle for the exposure of hypocrites and sycophants since Molière and was famously used in the Fawlty Towers series to great effect. The small town Russian dignitaries are thrown in to a state of panic when the Postmaster (Alasdair Macrae), who with provincial pragmatism has in the ‘Pstoffice’, opened and then reveals the contents of a letter about an incognito Government Inspector from the Capital whose arrival will scupper their palm-greasing ways. 

Their fears are given weight by the gossipy landlord comic double act, Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky, brilliantly played by Tim Licata and Mark Prendergast. Each petty official is aware of the cracks in their closed municipal system and, keen to protect his own neck, toadies to the opportunistic (and beautifully shod) but starving Khlestakov (Andy Clark) and his manservant, Osip (Alasdair Macrae). 

Their presence in the small town exposes human weaknesses and the false Inspector takes full advantage of them all, but particularly the dynamics of the Governor’s wife and daughter, convincingly and comically shown by Gerda Stevenson and Kirstin McLean.

The characters take the audience into their confidence with asides showing the true feelings of these self-serving and eventually humiliated bureaucrats who’d been individually fleeced by Khlestakov so schadenfreude was inevitable and audible.

The flyer shows a wad of money being offered to potential  audience members but no bribes needed to go and see this brilliant show. Some extra temptations may be the rollicking rhythm and poetry in the text, the glorious split second gambling scene, the magic of the horses and sleigh illusion and maybe most joyous of all, the suppressed gaiety of the waiter (Malcolm Shields) that belies his balletic skills as he listens then dances to the Russian band.

Show times: 9 -11 March, 2010, 7.30pm. 2.30 and 7.30pm Wed 10 March

Tour continues til 13 March.

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