Government Inspector Young Vic 16 June


Picture from

There were two main things this production lacked for me.  It was  an opera–in fact, an archetypal ENO staging–without music or without enough music anyway.  It was also  Gogol’ without the  tacky vulgarity raised to the status of existential horror (poshlost’ in a word), and that poshlost’ spread thinly over a vacuum that threatens to consume all at any moment.  What you see in the picture above is not poshlost’ but normal healthy bad taste that any right-thinking person would wish to see in his home.

What we got instead was whacked over the head with bits of funny business: NOW laugh, NOW laugh, NOW laugh…Julian Barratt as the Mayor did a very good impression of a former boss of mine, but both he and Kyle Soller as Khlestyakov were really too straightforward and…err…normal.  This could be a another case of ‘What do I expect if I go to something I know too much about?’ since in my time I’ve both played the Mayor in this piece and been mistaken for an important visitor in the Russian provinces.

Yes I remember now–the Mayor here made no attempt to approach the required level of slavish Oriental abasement.

I would have been quite interested to see how they did the dumb scene at the end, but I was so bored I’d started trying to read the back of my programme-cum-playscript.  [Gets out p-cum-s.]  Well, it’s not a dumb scene in the script here!  A very good job I went home to do my cleaning…

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