Olivia Rook, Critics’ Circle Main Editor
The arrival of The Government Inspector at Nottingham Playhouse signals the final play in this year’s Critics’ Circle; and what a way to finish. This production, which involves the collaboration of Birmingham Repertory and Ramps on the Moon, boldly foregrounds the possibilities of using a cast with a variety of abilities on stage. Instead of shying away from displaying disability, this production revels in its difference. With the inclusion surtitles and interpreters, there were multiple layers of communication in this production, so much so that it sometimes became difficult to know where to look! This jam-packed show was professionally worked to showcase each of the actor’s individual talents and the stage was crafted to allow for perfectly timed comedic moments. With a number of Critics’ Circle having performed in their own version of The Government Inspector with the Playhouse’s Senior Youth Theatre, I felt like I was in a room of experts. And the verdict? This is a must-see.
Matty Collins – Review
A comedic story with themes of love, greed and the consequences of presumption. The Government Inspector, written by Nikoli Gogol, is a comedy set in Russia and follows the tale of a small town on the fold of a map, home to corrupt officials and measly peasants. The head of this town, the mayor, is the most corrupt and shady of them all with his bribing, shouting and general stress. The town’s elders are informed that there is a government inspector coming to pay a visit, or that he may already be there! From this point on, they try to charm and woo him so that he will give the town a good report and they will be known as good people who deserve a job in the heavenly place of Petersburg. They believe they are successful in their fooling, until right at the end, after a period of bribing and lots of flirting, they learn that he’s not a real government inspector!
A piece performed by a wonderful cast who used the comedic opportunities in this play to the absolute maximum, which had the audience reduced to tears and aching with laughter. I haven’t laughed at a play so much for a very long time and it appeared that the majority of the audience felt the same way.
I would highly recommended going to see this play, I’m sure you will not regret it.
Nikki Charlesworth – Review
Being a huge fan of Nikoli Gogol’s The Government Inspector, Ramps on the Moon’s production had a lot to live up to, and it did not disappoint. Bursting with energy and exuberance, the show began with a series of exaggerated freeze frames involving the entire cast backed with ‘dark and brooding’ Russian music, setting you up for a fast-paced couple of hours of dramatic irony and rich political satire.
A well-synced cast bounced off each other’s energy and well-formed characters all individually flourished. The first scene presented no end of information to take in with an array of characters, BSL interpretation, audio description and captioning, and could arguably, at times, be overwhelming. However, this tapestry was a driving force for the comedy as it was in these multi-layers Gogol’s jokes were continually reinforced and the audiences’ ceaseless laughter showed its reception.
Following Graeae’s ethos of the ‘Aesthetics of Access’, this production showed the astounding results when accessibility is applied creatively, thinking intentionally and innovatively, rather than as an afterthought. There was a moment in the second half when the town Judge meets the so called government inspector and the captioning ‘broke down’ (“ERROR” spread across the screen followed by a nonsensical keyboard gag) and a hilarious scene of frustrated mime followed, as they attempted to exchange bribes through signs, building up layers to the miscommunication already in the script, and thus contributing to the dramatic irony of the entire play.
The set is as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional: fine gold, delicate, angular structures suggest a modern, mid-20th century hotel foyer, with imperial revolving doors taking centre stage and becoming crucial for the characters’ comedic entrances and exists. The set spans two levels, and The Mayor’s flashy wife Anna and daughter Maria take an elevator between the two – adding to the comedy as conversation stand-offs are taken to the lift, whilst also using the accessibility as a tool to reinforce the ease and luxury of the Mayor’s life in a town full of corruption.
An excellent relationship is established between Anna (Kiruna Stammel) and Maria (Francesca Mills) as they both feed in the endless insults directed at one another and compete brazenly for the affection of the presumed government inspector. Their farcical timing is exact, and they (quite literally) bounce off one another.
A tremendous night, full of sensual treats. I would be more than happy to see it again.
Comedy Gold: Alice Malyon Review
The Government Inspector made for a brilliant evening. The plot detailed themes of corruption and ignorance in a humorous way. The story painted a neglected, downtrodden town in Russia that was informed of an upcoming visit from a government inspector. The corrupt, flailing mayor and the rest of the town’s officials scrambled to impress the ‘inspector’ who, as it turned out, was an ordinary man with no money to his name. Bribes were accepted and the ‘inspector’ left, only for the town to receive a letter informing them that the real inspector was scheduled to arrive shortly.
It was an all-access play, which essentially meant that the performance was more inclusive. Surtitles, signing, and a cast that included disabled actors as well as non-disabled were all features of this excellent joint venture (Birmingham Repertory and Ramps on the Moon). However, what struck me as notable was the quality of the acting. Perhaps ignorantly I assumed that the disabilities the actors had would hinder the performance, but I was absolutely wrong. The disabled actors were incredibly talented and there wasn’t a single weak link.
The humour was quick and sharp, and the pace of the performance didn’t falter. The set was incredible, mechanically made of bold and seemingly textured shapes, and the costumes were simple and effective as a collective. Each character was drawn in detail and their role was immediately identifiable.
For myself, the humour wasn’t quite laugh-out-loud, but that view is a mix of my personal taste and the script itself, rather than the delivery. There was a man sat in the row in front who didn’t stop laughing from the beginning to the end. Also, I found that the play was long, and dragged a little towards the end.
Nevertheless, on the whole the performance was truly excellent. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone up for a light-hearted evening at the theatre.
Poppy Cook – Review
The Government Inspector is a fast-paced comedy following the story of an extremely corrupt town in Russia, as they try to bribe the inspector from St Petersburg to write a positive report about them. However, the man who they think is the inspector is not, although he accepts all the bribes given to him and takes advantage of the desperate mayor. This results in chaos.
I was particularly looking forward to seeing this production, as I was involved with the Nottingham Playhouse Senior Youth Theatre’s production last year. It was interesting to see the different staging, lighting and delivery of the very same lines we learnt, to tell the same story.
David Carlyle’s performance as Anton Antonovich, the Mayor, was particularly impressive. He brilliantly captured the Mayor’s frantic and despairing nature. His high energy throughout the show was supported by the equally talented Kiruna Stamell and Francesca Mills, playing his wife and daughter, who had brilliant comic timing and presented enthusiastic, charismatic characters.
The Ramps on the Moon project, which this production is a part of, is a six-year project putting disabled actors at the centre of its programmes. On stage throughout the whole of The Government Inspector is a performer interpreter, as well as electronic surtitles with the script on as it is being delivered. I thought it was brilliant that the surtitles were incorporated into the show at various points rather than just being ignored.
Overall The Government Inspector is a funny-faced, well-paced comedy and I definitely recommend it to anyone.
Uplifting, Joyous and United! – Isabella Elliott Review
Ah, The Government Inspector, we meet again! I performed the play with the Senior Youth Theatre at the Playhouse last year, taking on the roles of Klopov and the Locksmith’s Wife, so seeing this production was like revisiting an old friend.
The adaptation, directed by Roxana Slibert, was created in conjunction with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and in association with Ramps on The Moon, and united a highly skilled cast, a sensory stage integrating British Sign Language and Audio Description, to produce a stunning work, full of humour and insight.
Set in rural Russia, written by Nikolai Gogol in 1836, this is the story of a corrupt small town where the people with the most power are the most unprincipled. They get a hint that a government inspector is coming to their village so they quickly try to cover up all their wrongdoings. It’s a comedy of lies, bribes and false promises which still rings true today.
As you walk in, the Art Deco inspired set designed by Ti Green made a great visual impact. Its various platforms, lift and revolving door added another dimension to the play, enabling simultaneous action, emphasising the chaotic situation.
The Mayor (David Carlyle) was incredible; he brought so much power, energy and physicality to the part. Dobchinsky (Rachel Denning) and Bobchinsky (Stephen Collins) had perfect chemistry, they bounced off each other and were hilarious. Khlestakov (Robin Morrissey) was both slimy and charming when he was in control, chaotic and skittish when he was not.
This production of The Government Inspector was uplifting and joyous, demonstrating how the combination of great writing, contemporary technology and integrated and accessible theatre can be groundbreaking and hilarious! Even thinking about it now brings a smile to my face.
A Good Report from the Inspector – Ryan Dickson Review
When the corrupt mayor of a Russian town receives news from St. Petersburg that a government inspector is coming to town, all hell breaks loose. The town officials try to make sure something good about them goes down in the report so they all try to figure out who the inspector is. Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky enter this chaos saying that they’ve found out who it is but there is a surprise around the corner.
My favourite character in the play was Khlopov who played his role very well. He was very funny and just added that little something to the play. I also enjoyed the portrayal of Bobchinsky.
The play was delivered so that it was inclusive for every audience member; they had captions at the top of the set and I liked that they weren’t ignored, but were comically referred to in the play. Some of the actors performed with the use of sign language. This was also referred to on the stage, which I liked. I really enjoyed this show and would highly recommend it. You will be missing out if you don’t go. I rate it 5 stars out of 5.
Scarlett Shaw – Review
‘It’s not good gentlemen. That’s why I’ve gathered you all here. An inspector is coming…a government inspector!’ The Government Inspector tells the story of a small, scruffy town with no money who try their very best to impress the government inspector. All the townspeople’s money disappears when they use bribes to impress this ‘government inspector’.
But when a huge misunderstanding gets out of hand, one man finds himself very rich and the town is left completely out of pocket. I really enjoy this production as I studied it with the Playhouse for a few weeks, so I knew what it was all about. It was really interesting to see what had changed and what they did differently to us. The language was slightly different but I think I might have liked it better!
A brilliant story, brilliant actors, a brilliant set and a brilliant play overall. 10/10 for me.
Colm Greany – Review
This version of The Government Inspector adds an innovative new twist to the original. It managed to include the possibility for all actors and audience members to participate and understand the play. Surtitles, interpreters and sign language were included in the performance. This play was amazing with the correct blend of comedy and drama and the only thing that spoils it for me is that I was in this play for senior youth theatre last year so I already knew all the surprise revelations!
The story is set in a corrupted town “on the fold of the bloody map” where news is received that a government official is coming to inspect the town. After hearing this information the Mayor is beside himself until Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky come barging in claiming to have found the ‘inspector’. The rest of the play is made up of the events and the repercussions of this mistake as they spiral out of control.
I think this is an amazing play and deserves nothing less than a 5/5 from me.
¿Incognito? – Caitlin Kupsa Review
This incredible performance just shows that anyone, no matter what disability they have, can pull off an amazing performance as long as they work hard. This hilarious play is about a small town in Russia that is not performing up to standards. Because expectations are not being met, the government in St Petersburg decide to send an inspector to find out what the problems are. The foolish characters Dobchinski and Bobchinski decide that they have found the inspector that the Mayor has had a letter about. This mistake ends up leaving the whole town less well off, with less dignity, and more foolish than they already were.
The set design was very interesting as it was simple but complex when thought through. The costumes were all very specific and suited each character’s personality perfectly. Each person had been well chosen for their part. The comedy between the characters was witty, and I thought that it was clever how there were certain performers that had been cast to sign each of the character’s lines. It was a great play, that was extremely enjoyable to watch and I would recommend it to anyone; even though there is some strong language, this only added to the humour. I would go and see this play again any day and would love to perform in a cast like this.