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The Government Inspector ****

Watching The Government Inspector reminded me of my grandfather’s favourite joke.  How can you tell when a politician is lying?  When his lips are moving.

Nikolai Gogol’s mediation on political corruption feels as modern now as it must have at its premier, a point the publicity correctly highlights.  With its plot centred on incompetent political officials who are only talented in stealing money and exploiting others while doing anything to retain power, there is no surprise that the play has continually been performed.

And yet, I’m in a bit of a conundrum over Communicado’s recent production of this play.  I know that I liked and admired many of its artistic qualities.  However, it’s nearly two weeks since I saw it (I know, shame on me for my procrastination) and I’m struggling to muster a full review.

I think it’s because Gerry Mulgrew’s production seemed far more concerned with making good moments than in creating an overall impression.  True, holding an audience for nearly three hours is no small feat, and Mulgrew created a mosaic of fantastically theatrical moments, most of which were very funny.  However, when all is said and done, I find that it is a few key moments, some lasting mere seconds, that I remember best.

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.

Mulgrew was greatly assisted by a crackerjack cast, all of whom sang and played musical instruments in the highly entertaining scene shifts while playing characters who could have fit perfectly into a Looney Tunes cartoon.  John Bett as The Govenor and Andy Clark as Khlestakov were both fantastic as the leads, but they were almost upstaged by the supporting ensemble, all of whom performed brilliantly and each had a clear moment to shine.

That’s the key.  It may not have been a great full production, but The Government Inspector was filled with so many great moments that it proved impossible to resist.

Run completed.

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