You are currently viewing REVIEW: The Government Inspector, Marylebone Theatre (2024)
Kiell Smith-Bynoe as Percy Fopdoodle and cast (Photo: Oliver King)

REVIEW: The Government Inspector, Marylebone Theatre (2024)

Comedy of Russian Greed, Folly and Pride

 

“All the manners and breeding of a Scottish step child”

Governor Swashprattle

Kiell Smith-Bynoe as Percy Fopdoodle and Martha Howe-Douglas as Mrs Anna Swashprattle (Photo: Oliver Smith)

This is a revival by Patrick Myles who also directs, of a play first performed 188 years ago, written by Nikolai Gogol who was born in the Ukraine. In An Author’s Confession (1847) Gogol described the purpose of his play: “I decided to gather in one pile all the bad in Russia of which I was then aware… and at the same time, to laugh at everything.” Its messages are the vanity of those in power and the lengths they will go to maintain the status quo. Some might say it has relevance to today’s political empires; certainly it is timely.

It is basically a farce in a suburban town controlled by the Church Reverend Jargogle (David Hartley) the Police Constable Bodkin (Nigel Hastings) the Judiciary Judge Woofit (Anna Savva) and assisted by the Postmaster Cumberworld (Christopher Hunter). On top and in charge of everything is Governor Swashprattle (Dan Skinner) : you can see where this is going!  All of these officials have their own not so little sidelines and kickbacks.

Paranoia is ever present and suddenly they are told that there is to be a Government Inspector coming to look at the books.  Panic and humour ensues. There is a stranger staying at the Inn behaving rudely, not paying his bills and acting exactly as a senior Government Inspector would.  He is Percy Fopdoodle (Keill Smith-Bynoe). 

Kiell Smith-Bynoe as Percy Fopdoodle and cast (Photo: Oliver King)

He comes to visit the Governor where he meets the Governor’s wife Mrs Anna Shashprattle (Martha Howe-Douglas),  her daughter Miss Connie Swashprattle (Chaya Gupta), a couple of sycophants Ian Brabble (Peter Clements) and Ian Grubble (Dan Starky). They all take him to be the Inspector so business comes first followed by bribery, unfortunately the “Government Inspector” turns out to be even more of a con man than they are, singularly interested in himself and his “needs”.

In any farce, timing is all important, usually with overacting and the cast get stuck in.  Keill Smith-Bynoe, seen most recently in Ghosts plays his part to the hilt.  Martha-Howe-Douglas also from Ghosts, is fun, this time without the prosthetics in her mouth, but my favourite was Dan Skinner as Governor Swashprattle. The stage design by Melanie Jane Brookes is simple and open, allowing for much dashing about.

The Marylebone Theatre has only been open for 18 months and they are establishing a reputation for interesting programming. 

Chaya Gupta as Miss Connie Swahprattle and Keill Smith-Bynoe as Percy Fopdoodle. (Photo: Oliver Smith)

Production Notes

The Government Inspector

Written by Nikolai Gogol

Adapted and Directed by Patrick Myles

Cast

Starring:

Alison Ward

Anna Savva

Christopher Hunter

Dan Skinner

Dan Starkey

Daniel Millar

David Hartley

Kiell Smith-Bynoe

Nigel Hastings

Peter Clements

Martha Howe-Douglas

Chaya Gupta

Creatives

Director: Patrick Myles

Designer: Melanie Jane Brookes

Movement Design: Kate Tydman

Lighting Designer: Rick Mountjoy

Sound Designer: Jamie Lu

Fight Director: John Sandeman

 

Information

Running Time: Two hours and 5 minutes

with an interval

Booking to 15th June 2024

Theatre: 

Marylebone Theatre

 
 

Website:

Tube: Baker Street

Reviewed by

Malcolm Beckett

at the Marylebone Theatre

on 8th May 2024