The Government Inspector
A Play by Nilokai Gogol
~ Directed by Craig Jaster, Costuming by Mary Randall
performed April 19-21, 2012 in the Sant Bani School Studio Theater
Greedy, self-serving small-town politicians. A corrupt bureaucracy. Bribes. And in the title role, a complete slacker, a morally deficient anti-hero. Welcome to the hilariously self-centered world of The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol, in an up-to-date, new translation by Alistair Beaton and directed by Craig Jaster.
The play revolves around a classic case of mistaken identity, when a shabby young civil servant named Khlestakov (played by senior Andrés Orr) is mistaken for, yes, a Government Inspector “traveling incognito.” The local mayor (senior Adison Lintner) is determined to prevent him from seeing how awful conditions are in his backwater provincial town; and if that task proves impossible, well, perhaps he and his cronies could persuade the gentleman through kid glove treatment…and cash?
Meanwhile, the Inspector’s arrival excites the imagination of the whole town, especially the Mayor’s excitable wife (freshman Sophia Gilberto) and pitifully naïve daughter (junior Emily Monfet), a situation Khlestakov wastes no time in enjoying to his advantage—before leaving town with a pocketful of cash and, it would seem, not a jot of remorse.
Hopefully conditions have improved since the massive and thoroughly corrupt bureaucracy under Russia’s Tsar Nicholas I, who is said to have made the observation that the play ridiculed everyone, most of all himself, yet to his credit did not punish Gogol, but rather intervened on his behalf so the play could be produced in 1836.
The great gap in status between the educated and the working classes is also closing (culture wars? what culture wars?), but audiences are bound to appreciate the classic comedy of status differences as observed through Gogol’s jaundiced eyes. The only characters unimpressed by Khlestakov are the various servants, particularly his own servant Osip (played by freshman Chai Kim), who comes closest to being a voice of reason in the play, urging his master to get out while the going is still good.
Featuring a cast of 19 high school and four junior high students, with costumes by Mary Randall, The Government Inspector is a rollicking comedy loaded with outrageous characters and deliciously cynical observations of humanity at its flawed best. Worst, that is.
The Government Inspector was performed for the public April 19, 20 & 21 at 7 pm, in the studio theater. For information on other upcoming arts performances please contact the school at 603 934-4240.