With a plotline that hinges on the consequences of an early miscommunication, this production of The Government Inspector is ironically a multi-lingual masterpiece that celebrates communication in all forms.
A collaboration between Birmingham Repertory Theatre and exciting new project Ramps On The Moon; the adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s satirical comedy effortlessly blends sign language, audio description, captioning, digital projection and the slickest physical comedy into a performance that takes inclusive theatre to a whole new level. Nothing here is overstated or included as a token gesture. This is not a production giving a nod to accessibility simply to tick boxes. From the elegant set design and the subtle use of digital projection, to the fully signed and interpreted performances; the various facets of the production hang together so well that it is difficult to imagine how the play would work without including any one of them.
The story follows a group of civil servants in a provincial town as they react to the news of an impending visit from a government official. With the hospital a health hazard, an unequipped army, unfinished building projects and rioting in school classrooms they have a great deal to be worried about in the advent of the incognito official visit. So when a stranger arrives from St Petersburg they will go to any lengths to see that he is treated to the very best hospitality that the town can offer.
There are excellent performances throughout, with the company of actors and interpreters creating a captivating ensemble piece from which it is difficult to single any individual out. The script races along with flair and a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek delivery that brings out the very best in Gogol’s satire, but also takes the opportunity to laugh at the production itself.
This is billed as Roxana Silbert’s ground-breaking production and it truly is a show that pushes at the boundaries of what has been considered inclusive theatre in the past. Theatre practitioners, teachers, students, audiences can learn a huge amount from this production and enjoy a hilarious night in the theatre to boot. This is the first in a series of nationwide projects by Ramps On The Moon and the bar has been set at the highest level for those set to follow.
The Government Inspector plays at The REP until Saturday 26 March, before embarking on a UK tour.
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