A ground-breaking production of The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol’s 19th century comedy, is at the Crucible in Sheffield.
It’s part of the Ramps On The Moon programme, a national initiative, which aims to celebrate and support disabled actors, theatre workers and audience members.
The cast includes actors with a variety ofdisabilities, including ones who are deaf, and ones of restricted growth. Two interpreters are integrated into the cast and use sign language and audio description to help those in the audience who may be deaf or blind. There are also video projections of the text.All this might be confusing, but the skill of the company is such that potential distractions are woven into the fabric of the play.
The set, a skeletal design of a public building, with a revolving door, unifies the action.
The plot hinges on a case of mistaken identity. In a small Russian town a rumour circulates that a Government Inspector has arrived and is staying at an inn.
This puts the Mayor and the local dignitaries in a state of panic. In fact the Government Inspector is an innocuous civil servant – who soon capitalises on his unlooked for celebrity.
The dialogue is fast and furious. Events gather momentum. The stress takes its toll on the Mayor, magnificently played by David Carlyle.
The play’s themes – of corruption and transparency – are unnervingly contemporary.
But there’s not a dull moment. It’s an incredibly funny show which is running at the Crucible until Saturday, June 25.