Director Anna Holmén writes: “Everybody gets it, and I most of all.” This is what Czar Nicholas I is said to have commented, when he saw the first production of The Government Inspector, “Revizor” in April 1836. The play is a satire of the ingrained corruption in Russia by the Ukrainian-born playwright Nikolai Gogol, based on an idea from none other than Pushkin. It is a play with deep roots in Russian culture, clearly proving that the British are not the only ones who can laugh at themselves.
So why do I want to direct this comedy of errors? Well, the keywords are “officials”, “administration”, “power play” and “corruption”. I felt that if there was a translation old enough to be without copyright, then a modern adaption and some geographical adjustments would make the play perfectly suited for the capital of Europe. This modern version gives the Brussels ex-pat community, and not least its faceless eurocrats, something from our own backyard to laugh about as we deal with the too often voiced, false accusations of creating too much administration, playing power games and corrupt dealings.
Luckily, I found someone who had just the same ideas as me, but a much better ability to put them on paper. Tim Myers has virtually rewritten the whole play, in modern language and a whole new setting, while keeping Gogol’s, frankly very unpleasant, characters and classic comedy intrigue. Funnily enough, none of the translations I have come across has had the names of the characters translated, even though they in the original have meanings referring to the characters themselves. Inspired by Dickensian tradition, Tim has renamed them all to give the audience a hint of what to expect.
A quick resume of the plot gives us a small town, somewhere in Europe, spectacularly mismanaged by Mayor Bagloot, Judge Rushcase, hospital director Olga Chisel and school director Luke Lamb. As in so many other classic plays, a letter is intercepted, and the officials learn that a government inspector is coming to town. In the turmoil that ensues, a misunderstanding leads Mayor Bagloot and his cronies to believe that an official staying at the local inn with his servant is the inspector in question.
With a very strong cast of seasoned and new actors I am confident that the ECC November production will give the audience value for money and aching abdominal muscles.
Tickets available from https://thelittleboxoffice.com/ecc