This inspector's call means trouble

The Government Inspector @ Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

The Government Inspector @ Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

By CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Auditor, appraiser, Ofsted snooper or government inspector, as Henry Burke puts it in his vigorous translation of the classic Russian comedy, they all mean the say thing — trouble. They check up, and people get het up.

And that is just how Nikolai Gogol presents it, with a large cast of affectionately crafted Dickensian types holding limited authority in a situation where corruption has become a way of life.

As producer Henry Burke knows how to create group scenes and organise running entries. What gives a little more difficulty is the dramatist tendency to over development, so that points are not only made but rammed home hard.

Still, the cast responds wholeheartedly. As Ivan, Darren McMorran is a dapper with the snapper, for a moment almost unable to believe his good fortune when he's mistaken for the visiting civil servant, but he never misses a chance to collect the rubels before he's rumbled.

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Peter James as mayor leaves the provincials on their way between pretentiousness and petrifaction, while Carole Lovett as his wife is a characterisation that has sharp elbows as well as a penetrating voice. The remainder of the cast coheres as a group while keeping their individuality. The result is more and more hilarious until the announcement of the arrival of the man they had really been expecting all the time.

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