Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 6 March 2014
The Government Inspector, March 5, 2014 ****
By Simon Stone & Emily Barclay, inspired by Nicolai Gogol; musical by
Stefan Gregory Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse,
until March 23, 2104 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Mar 5, 2014 Stars:****
Full review also published in Herald Sun online March 6, 2014 and in print later. (probably Mar 7)
L to R: Greg Stone, Fayssal Bazzi, Rob Menzies, Eryn Jean Norville, Gareth Davies.
The Malthouse’s production of The Government Inspectorunzips, then hilariously turns inside out, Nicolai Gogol’s
Russian farce about a corrupt town that dreads a visit from a government
auditor, only to discover that he is a fake.
The formidable cast of seven is the greatest
strength in this show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a bit of
hoot from go to whoa.
Director, Simon Stone, modernises and
transposes Gogol’s farce, placing it in the Malthouse rehearsal room where the actors
play heightened versions of themselves, (they use their own names) and confront
the collapse of not one, but three shows they are rehearsing.
This new narrative is like an actor’s
nightmare: they change shows mid-rehearsal, an actor dies during a tea break,
the director resigns, a new director arrives, the show is a mess and cannot be
performed so they make up a musical. Yeah, really! It‘s a riot.
This scenario is based on the real-world
Malthouse genuinely losing the rights to The Philadelphia Story and having to
replace it with The Government Inspector at short notice – scary business for a
This anxious, needy and arrogant cast (inside
the play) become the victims of a long con perpetrated by the supposed Russian
director, Seyfat Babeyev (Gareth Davies), who compels them to enter and exit
through washing machines and leaves one actor facing the wall for the entire
Much of the comedy arises from the brittle
egos of the onstage actors, their shameless ambition, naked jealousy and
desperate need to keep working and be known.
The show is rescued from becoming
under-graduate parody by the committed and accomplished performances.
Butel is audacious as an uppity actor and his masterly vocal skills are
showcased here in a an ridiculous, musical vignette with Zahra Newman, who has
a bold and compelling singing voice.
Davies is a perfect clown as the hapless Frank and bolshy director while Robert
Menzies is absurdly grumpy as the veteran actor.
Stone provides plenty of laughs as an angry, envious actor, Eryn-Jean Norvill
is the epitome of a dippy screen star and Fayssal Bazzi’s cool, observant actor
is a fine foil for the noisy characters.
should be delighted with this tribute to his story of a crooked town being
duped by a cunning incomer.