The Government Inspector


Set in Tsarist Russia, this fast-moving, almost corybantic comedy of errors extols the energy of a Carry On and farcical irony of an episode of Fawlty Towers. Philip Aspin’s John Cleese-eque Mayor is so perpetually frenetic in the face of an ensuing government inspection, that he compliments the stage set’s scarlet colour accent. It is not without charisma, however, that the talented Aspin addresses the audience and pressurises the intrinsically corrupt villagers to adulate and impress the svelte and rather dandy visitor, Khlestakov (Alex Worsnip). While Khlestakov swaggers (or at least feigns to), the ladies in red swoon, perhaps Mona Schroedel best of all: in her role as the Warden/Shopkeeper, Schroedel exemplifies the importance of facial expressivity in a high-pulsed production. At times, the lack of an ease-up in the characters’ hysteria resembles more an espresso-inspired intoxication than a genuine concern to conceal government corruption, but generally equilibrium is maintained between the darker and the more farcical elements of Gogol’s satire. Gogol the man may well have been quite a personality, but Gogol the playwright has certainly secured a further posthumous success in this particularly laudable rendition.

 
Daisy Dunn