The Government Inspector
Presented by the Saint Anselm College Abbey Players on November 11th, 12th, and 13th, 2010
Written by: Nikolai Gogol
Adapted by: Jeffery Hatcher
Co-directed by: Dr. Landis K. Magnuson and Carey Cahoon
The Saint Anselm College Abbey Players never fail to select shows with wit and eloquent writing: the show The Government Inspector, written originally in Russian by Ukrainian-born Nikolai Gogol, comes as the second production of the Abbey Players’ 62nd season, a show focused on political corruption, human avarice, and the “comedy of errors” framework, in which the question of who is really whom poses itself with comical satire, poise, and anticipation of what will happen in the end.
Acting as assistant directors and stage directors, Jillian Buratto and Molly Thompson help the co-directors to shape a show made even more hilarious by the fact that all the characters act-out the script in Russian accents. The costumes and properties, all elegant and quite reminiscent of the plot’s time period, come from a skilled behind-the-scenes team comprised of Ashley Therrien, Amanda Carrington, Kerry Anne Fraser, Melissa Tivnan, and Amanda O’Donnell, among others.
The story, taking place in a small Russian town, involves the sudden realization on the part of the townspeople that an undercover government official is coming to inspect their town. A man in turmoil named Ivan Alexandreyevich Hlestekov (played by Seath Crandall, and alternately spelt Khlestakov) has recently come to stay at the town’s inn, and everybody expects that he is the incognito inspector. Introduced now is the town’s mayor Anton Antononovich (brilliantly acted by Alex Silveri,) a man accustomed to political corruption, and, after some time, Khlestakov moves-in to the mayor’s household, all while accepting bribes and large sums of money from various townspeople himself.
During the middle portion of the show, Khlestakov becomes romantically entangled with the mayor’s daughter and wife, Marya Antonovna (portrayed by Kaitlin Smith) and Anna Andreyevna (acted with much-appreciated comedy by Jane Hogan.) As the mayor worries that Khlestakov will discover his schemes, Khlestakov and Marya announce that they are engaged to marry; however, secretly advised that it would be unwise to stay, Khlestakov tells everyone that he will be leaving to go back from where he came. Some of the best comedy occurs in this portion, coming from Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky (respectively portrayed by Tyler Lavallee and Tom Hill, who manage to act almost as one single character,) the director of the town’s hospital and a doctor (acted by Amanda O’Donnell and Jay Bowie,) and, perhaps the most deadpan and understated of the roles in the show, the innkeeper’s wife and Grusha, the maid of the mayor’s household (both acted by Sarah Yiznitsky.)
Towards the end of the show, all of the townspeople gather to celebrate the engagement. However, in a twist of fate, the imperial messenger (played by Nick Pierce) brings a letter, one which reveals that Khlestakov is not the government inspector. Instead, it reveals the truth of what he thinks about all the townspeople. As the mayor has now been publicly humiliated, he argues with the various townspeople, revealing the truth he thinks is safe to share. However, the old doctor, who appears unable to communicate very well and a bit daft throughout the show, presents himself outof his disguise as the real government inspector, demanding to speak with the mayor immediately.
The actors were all convincing and authentic in their Russian accents and mannerisms, while still impressively managing to be well-understood and fluent in their lines. The show’s success comes from the actors’ dedication to the material, especially to the show’s humor, and the crew’s efforts to keep the costumes, staging, and properties appropriate to the show’s era. Seeing The Government Inspector may or may not give a preview to the types of shows that will come later-on in the season; however, seeing it gives, without any doubt, an impression of the kind of motivation the Abbey Players have to continue bringing skillfully-acted productions to the college community.