Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
When Communicado Theatre Company toured Adrian Mitchell's adaptation of Gogol's satire of small-town corruption in 2011, it's tale of back-handers, bungs and out and out bribes in high places looked all too timely. Two years on, and Gerry Mulgrew's scaled up revival, a co-production between Communicado and Aberystwyth Arts Centre, looks more pertinent than ever. This is the case even as Mulgrew's knockabout ensemble put style above polemic, making the self-serving clique who get wind that their antics are under investigation by a mysterious inspector appear even more ridiculous.
Equally ridiculous is Khlestakov, the penniless cad who the long, the short and the tall of the town presume to be the inspector, simply because he has the upper-crust swagger of the St Petersburg set, albeit without the cash to back it up. As played here by Oliver Lavery, Khlestakov is a feckless fop, whose own pomp woos the town-folk into catering for his every whim, so dazzled are they by his perceived power.
Mulgrew's use of a mixed Scots/Welsh cast for his fresh look at the play lends a pleasing musicality to Mitchell's text, while the sense of physical scale accentuates its absurdity on designer Jessica Brettle's semi-circular network of revolving doors. If the first half needs cranking up a tad if it's to truly catch comedic fire on a big stage, the second half succeeds in spades as all line up in turn to pay homage to Khlestakov. There's some fine-tuned comic interplay between Lavery and Kate Quinnell as the governor’s twitty daughter before Khlestakov does a runner, leaving the town even more financially and morally bankrupt than it was before.
The Herald, March 28th 2013