The Government Inspector at the New Wolsey is simply a brilliant and clever production. The story is a comedy drama, with elements of crime, that is based on a book by Nikolai Gogol, about a Mayor in a small Russian town, who receives a notice that a Government Inspector is coming to inspect his somewhat-shambles of a town. In which he has been slacking in completing official duties, there are health hazards at the hospital, the soldiers don’t have matching uniforms, the school’s a war zone, jobs are incomplete and several people dislike him as he isn’t exactly the nicest of people. Bribing the inspector seems the only way forward… but it all gets a little out of control, in the case of a slight identity fraud!
Not only that, but it is brought to you by an innovative touring company called “Ramps On The Moon”, who signal for a change in the UK’s disability arts provision. Therefore, it has brought together six major UK theatres, with the help of partner Graeae, to change the way theatre is made by and for deaf and disabled people. Which is encouraging a positive change and awareness of disability issues within arts and culture. Hence, this show is fully accessible to all; as it includes a creative combination of sign language, captioning and audio description. Even down to the fact there are other formats of the programmes and leaflets.
I went into this show with very little prior knowledge, and due to the poster I had actually taken it as seeming like a political story- however, I was proved that judging a book (well, poster/play) by it’s cover definitely should not be done, as it exceeded my expectations.
While I admit, it personally took me a little while to get fully invested in the story as there are quite a few characters and some of the jokes early-on went over my head, so it took me a few moments to get a grip of the story, setting and characters. But once I had got into it, I was hooked and highly entertained.
I feel I should point out too, that it does have a fair amount of strong language, however it is used for much of the comedy effect.
The cast and characters were a delight, as each character had a very individual personality and qualities and were people that you could almost connect to people we know from our everyday lives. It was exciting to see the mixture of deaf, disabled and able on stage together, as well as the accessibility for all, as this is something I’d never seen before, and it was all handled in a creative and comic but respectful way. There was not a fault to anyone’s performance, the only issues being the odd technical glitch which almost went unnoticed, and I especially want to give a shout-out to the two last minute understudies, and the lead actors of the Mayor & Government Inspector who were ultimately the bulk of the show. Though, it felt very much an ensemble cast where everyone was of equal importance to the story.
The set was very cleverly done and designed too, I’ve personally seen similar structures on the West End, so for me, it was exciting to see that it can be done in smaller theatres too (and for fractions of the price!).
For me, this show proved how important it is to support local theatre and the projects they do, and to not judge something before you really know what it’s about.
Overall, I thought this was a brilliant piece of theatre that was fresh and innovative, with lots of laughs and heart and what’s more, it’s something that everyone can enjoy!
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The show runs at The New Wolsey in Ipswich until the 16th of April.
Having already played in Birmingham, it will also be visiting: The West Yorkshire Playhouse, Nottingham Playhouse, Theatre Royal Stratford East, The Everyman Liverpool & The Crucible Theatre Sheffield.
For more information on those dates visit the theatre websites or www.rampsonthemoon.co.uk