Set at the turn of the twentieth century, The Government Inspector promises to entice audience members with an entertaining adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s satirical play.
The Government Inspector takes place in a small, rural town in Russia, where corruption brews in every crevice of the population, with most businesses, hospitals and merchants operating through bribery and dishonesty. Inviting trouble to this storyline, an incognito inspector appears on the scene to observe this corrupt lifestyle.
Directed by Assistant Professor in Theatre and Dance Henry MacCarthy, The Government Inspector is adapted from its nineteenth century origins to be accessible to contemporary audiences. Fast-paced and edgy, the show is meant to shine a light on Russian history and literature, and do so through a humorous lens.
“It’s a comedy, first and foremost,” MacCarthy said. “We wanted to make sure we kept that comedic spirit throughout the entire play. It’s also a comedy of errors—mistakes are made that propels the actions forward.”
In this farce, no single character is safe from being manipulated by the system of corruption that is rampant in the small town.
Students involved in the play have been intensively working all throughout January Interim to make the play a success. Rehearsing several hours a day, five days a week, the large cast has not been short of hard work.
“We’re just starting to get the feel of everything,” Junior Theatre Major Comfort Dolo (playing the role of the Mayor’s wife) said. “We have a lot of new talents here; a lot of unfamiliar faces, and we’re just beginning to see what people are bringing into every role.”
As part of the largest cast that MacCarthy has ever directed at Gustavus, he’s had many characters to work with. Also working closely with each cast member is Costume Designer and Junior Theatre Major Jessica Van Kempen.
“After a lot of design conversations, we decided to appeal to the darker, realistic comedy side of the farce,” Van Kempen said. “Usually you see exaggerated costumes to emphasize how ridiculous it is. We decided to go more military, classic Russian in a sense of realism instead.”
Not wanting to draw attention away from the dialogue, Van Kempen has been designing costumes carefully to suit the needs of the play while maintaining as much historical accuracy as possible.
“It’s a period show set at the turn of the century, and because of that, I’ve had to think about when zippers were designed, researching buttons and how rural Russia was dressed in this time period,” Van Kempen said.
Anticipating the production of this play for a while now, MacCarthy is enthusiastic to present this unique play to Gustavus.
“Even though it’s an adaptation, the spirit of the original is kept intact,” MacCarthy said. “The highlight of this show is that it’s a comedic piece from the Russian repertoire. It’s important that students are exposed to plays and writers across the globe and from a different time period.”
The Government Inspector will be presented in Anderson Theatre Feb. 21 through Feb. 23 from 8 to 10 p.m. and Feb. 24 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are free for Gustavus students and staff; available at the Students Activities Office or online at gustavustickets.com.