Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky burst into the civic rooms of a small provisional town somewhere in Russia, far from St Petersburg (that’s an ongoing joke). They have alarming news that their time has come around again for government inspection. The intolerant, uncompromising Mayor is beside himself with worry for the state of the place and how poorly the public services are being met. He shouts his demands and his departmental people around him are suddenly darting around like headless chickens. On the other side of the coin, and receiving little hospitality at the beginning, is Mayor’s unwanted visitor, Khlestakov. When we are introduced to Khlestakov and Osip (his lackey) another tale is told!
A comedy in which the constitutional is so unconstitutional! There’s much unaccountability, bribery, and an awful lot of double dealing. Fabulous when the writing presents you with some wonderful characters, such as those who generally contribute so little to society but who are so conveniently comfortable with that; crooked people, town’s folk with rebellious intentions, and inferior leaders and officers. David Carlyle is as precise as a discriminatory Mayor can be. His crude language is pretty fruitful but I am in no way complaining, fabulous comic timing by Carlyle and by all members of the cast in fact.
There are many layers to the overall production, and the performing interpreters achieve such wonderful balance, nothing that is going on, is actually dictating. So much credit goes to Becky Barry, Daryl Jackson, and Jean St Clair, and to the directors, for this warmly mesmerizing stage work which is wholly entertaining, I found myself beaming from ear to ear throughout. The Government Inspector is a real sensory fest.
Graeae is a disabled led theatre company. As I have said before Graeae is a credible force for changing attitudes toward disability within the creative industry. The cast are often a mix of deaf, disabled and non-disabled and this is play is no exception.
Always present in any Graeae stage performance is complete access for all, for example: for the deaf audience members, performers are signing. The sign language is always integrated in the very heart of the performance and is never set away from the action being delivered separately on the sidelines from an interpreter, so nothing is missed. Surtitles and video projection are included.
Set Design by Ti Green
Production Photography by Robert Day
Review by theatre critic, Debra Hall who attended press night in an official capacity to review The Government Inspector at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre on Wednesday 23 March