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by Nikolai Gogol
Director RICHARD NEAL
Cast stands up to inspection
PRESENTED by Wimborne Drama, this lively interpretation of Gogol's work (adapted by Alistair Beaton) comes complete with colourful costumes, unfussy sets and clear voices. The town officials, all endearingly corrupt older men with hidden self-serving agendas, are delightfully droll, while Dave Williams serves well as the town's unscrupulous mayor.
Stuart Glossop also plays a solid lead as Khlestakov, the caddish civil servant mistaken for the Government Inspector, delivering his lines with a witty abandon. But, as is usually the case with a good comedy, it is the supporting parts that steal the show.
Tonv Feltham and Graham Hawkins give a sterling performance as Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky, a pair of Tweedledee/Tweedledum-esque twins. Simple but well meaning, the twins provide some of the play's best laughs alongside Khlestakov's world-weary servant Osip, extremely well played by David Pile.
Jan Singfield's Mrs Bennett style performance as Anna, the mayor's excitable wife, is also very funny. Particular recognition should go to costume designer Anne Ponting.
Eleanor Cowley, Daily Echo
IN no way wishing to accuse actors John Cleese and Connie Booth of plagiarism, it is clear they derived the inspiration for The Hotel Inspectors, an episode of the classic Fawlty Towers, from the work of a 19th century Ukranian writer. Gogol's The Government Inspector, which was given its first performance in St Petersburg in 1836, tells the story of a town put on an alert as it fears that it is to receive a critical visit from a government official. Like Basil in the TV series, the people toady to a minor impoverished civil servant in the belief that he is a top man. It is revealed in the last act, that they have wasted their favours.
Never afraid to tackle a lesser-known play, Wimborne Drama made a splendid job of this humorous story, which ridicules the bureaucracy of the Russian government pre-revolution.
With 22 players, it is impossible to highlight every performance, but several actors richly deserve a mention.
Dave Williams was delightfully ridiculous as the mayor, whilst Jan Singfield embraced the part of his coquettish, snobbish wife with skill.
Roy Birch and Jeremy Austin, as respectively the magistrate and commissioner for health, both have splendid stage presence and were entirely convincing in their roles, whether they were delivering their lines or bystanders.
Tony Feltham is always a scene stealer, although it wasn't clear why he and his fellow landowner, Graham Hawkins, were in identical amber suits more suited to a comedy pantomime duo - or perhaps that was the desired effect.
Credit should also go to director Richard Neal for bringing this old story of mistaken identity to life.
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