The Government Inspector

Date 14th May 2022
Society Betchworth Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue Betchworth Memorial Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Diane Mayall
Written By Nikolai Gogol

Report

Author: Graham Botterill

The Government Inspector is by Nikolai Gogol, the Ukrainian/Russian dramatist and novelist. The play satirizes greed, stupidity and political corruption.

Betchworth Memorial Hall is a fine, well-maintained venue. We received a very friendly welcome from Diane Mayall and FOH. Our attractive programme was crammed with colour photographs and information about this show and the group.

A gentle background of Russian music helped to set the scene. Lighting was well used both on the main stage and the thrust. As Amy Mager (Sound Design) and David Ames (Lighting Design) were onstage for so much of the show, Lee Upton and Diane worked the boards.

The principal scene was a very well constructed box set, that was furnished and decorated as a sitting room in the Mayor’s House. The other scene was the Room at the Inn, which was shared by Osip and Khleshtakov. This was placed on the stage thrust, which enabled fast scene changes and gave an intimacy to Osip’s monologue & the various conversations.

Props were appropriate and always used smoothly. Costumes were attractive and generally of a similar period. Clothing so many characters must have been a formidable task. And the many quick changes are to be applauded. Hair and wigs were well-dressed. Make-up was attractive.

This is a far from easy play to stage, particularly in a smallish venue. It is wordy and has a HUGE cast of characters, many of whom are required to be onstage together. That can cause a bit of bunching together and may inhibit movement.

However, that didn’t stop Amy Mager (Magistrate) who strutted around vigorously, projected her words in fine style  and reacted to everything going on.

The Mayor (Roger Nelson) had a huge part to play, with many long speeches. A bit shaky at first, he soon hit his stride and performed well. He showed a nice contrast between bullying subordinates and sucking up to the “Inspector”.

David Ames played the shy & nervous Education Director whilst Gerald Hulf was the conceited, pompous Commissioner for Health, who had appointed a Physician (Ian Stone) that nobody could understand.

Lucy Hamilton gave us a great dramatic monologue as the Postmaster, Shpyopkin; and then was deliciously sluttish & bonkers as Avdotya the housekeeper.

Bobchinsky (Stephen Tickell) regaled us with tedious, unending stories, whilst his companion, Dobchinsky (Tracey Hulf), was the more lively one in this fine double act.

The Mayor’s wife, Anna (Linda Slater) was animated and predatory; and their daughter, Marya (Vicki Hodges) was flirty, enthusiastic & very funny. They had a delightful rivalry for the attention of Khleshtakov.

Jane Khan played the Police Superintendent and the Locksmith’s Wife, whilst Julie Bickerdike was two stroppy ladies…the Sergeant’s Widow and the wife of the Education Director. Linda Peckham was a confident Constable, a Shopkeeper and the Magistrate’s Wife. David Eccles was a long-suffering Waiter, another Shopkeeper and the Gendarme. The head Shopkeeper, Abdulin, was a wonderfully uninhibited performance by Diane Mayall…great fun. John Mole appeared as the Mayor’s servant, Mishka, and Rastakovsky. And Julian Edney took time off from stage management to become the distinguished Korobkin.

Ian Stone made much of his role as Osip, the servant to the “Inspector”, Khleshtakov. It’s a great comic character and he was a credit to it.

Neil Mayall played Khleshtakov. He captured the confident, pompous & entitled (and self-deluded) nature of this character,  ponged out his words with great style and was outstanding in the role.

Diane has made a fine job of directing this play…and doing so much besides. She has been assisted by people who have worked hard at all their roles and jobs. Particularly impressive was the ability of the cast to change character as adroitly as they changed their costume.

It’s wonderful that BODS were able bring this play to fruition after the frustrations of the past two years. It demonstrates great loyalty and enthusiasm (and ability) by the cast and crew.