THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR presented by UC College-Conservatory, closed Oct. 7. Click here for a synopsis and more information on the production. I attended the Saturday matinee performance.
UC College-Conservatory of Music kicks off its 2018-19 MainStage season with Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the 1834 play by Russian dramatist Nikolai Gogol, performed by CCM Acting.
The two-sided, storybook set design by Lindsey Purvis impressed and worked really well for the production. The wig and make-up design by Kelly Yurko, combined with the wonderful costumes designed by Dean Mogle, made for a visually interesting and diverse set of characters. Regarding the make-up execution, I’m assuming the actors were responsible for their individual looks and were successful for the most part. The blending of some of the age lines could have used a bit more finesse here and there, but nicely done on the whole.
I was impressed with the character work by the ensemble. It was fun watching them find that mixture of over-the-top yet believable characters within the confines of the play. That being said, it could have been fun to see Ivan a bit more of a slave to his vices. This was the first time seeing this production and I thought the final reveal worked well. The intercepted letter at the end of the show did reveal a few plot points that didn’t necessarily come across in the performance. I was surprised to learn that The Mayor and the School Principal had known each other for 40 years. Visually they did not look like contemporaries to me. I also found the description of the Mayor’s wife in the letter as a woman with her best years behind her to be at odds with her on stage appearance.
I did find the pacing of the performance to be a bit sedate. Part of this was due to slow pickups among the cast, almost as if they were waiting for expected laughs. The structure of the show seemed to add to this problem. For example, several cast members, in succession, had an audience with the “government inspector.” As performed in the matinee, scenes came across more as individual vignettes instead of one scene flowing immediately into another.
Overall, an entertaining piece highlighted by smart character work and supported by a very strong design team.
My rating: 4.25 out of 5.
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