Friday, August 8, 2008

Theater Review: The Government Inspector: Guthrie Theater 8/7/08

"Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son." That may be, but watching fat, drunk, and stupid on the stage is one hell of a way to spend an evening.

Nikolai Golgol's The Government Inspector is a farce about the officials in a corrupt czarist Russia town who mistake the identity of a visitor for a government inspector.
The town's officials are corrupt, incompetent and dumb--not like the current leadership of the US--oh zing!

The town's officials learn that a government inspector is coming to town incognito. They scramble to whitewash their corruption and incompetence. In true Three's Company Fashion--and I mean that in a good way--the town's officials mistake the identity of the inspector for Hlestakov.

Hlestakov's a broke young braggart who travels from town to town on a drinking and gambling and whoring bender staying a half a step ahead of the debts that he accrues at each stop.
When we find Hlestakov, he is broke, dispaired, and exhausted his credit at an inn. A very funny scene unfolds when Hlestakov believes the procession of constables are surrounding the inn are there to encarcerate him while the mayer is trying to find a way to bribe Hlestakov. It all unfolds from there. More can be read about the story here.

The Government Inspector may contend for my favorite show of the 2007 season. It definitely made me laugh the most.

I thought that the costumes and the set brilliantly set a cartoonish tone for the play. The movement, music, and the dialogue contributed to a light, lively, and humorous experience.
To get an idea of the tone, there is a gallery and a video of the production on the Guthrie Theater's web site here.

I think the thing that impressed me the most is how the actors performed--until you see jokes delivered poorly, it is tough to appreciate good comedic delivery. Comedy is often the most challenging form of acting. Comparatively speaking, to make an audience sad is like shooting a fish in a barrel compared to the nebulous and elusive emotion of laughter. It is easy to make an idiot laugh, it is difficult to make a room full of people laugh. The production of The Government Inspector made an entire theater full of people laugh repeatedly.

The Government Inspector plays through August 24, 2008. I highly recommend seeing it.

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