Gogol’s classic 19th Century comedy of errors and mistaken identity has been updated for today’s audiences by Jeffrey Hatcher, not unlike a Marx Brothers comedy. When local officials in a small Russian town learn that an undercover government official is coming, the whole village is sent into a world of panic, hasty cover ups and greed. A low-level clerk from St. Petersburg, with his own larcenous bent, is mistaken for the inspector.
Fearing the visit will uncover the town’s well-established pattern of corruption, local officials from the Mayor down set off in a flurry of activity to cover up their various histories of public misdeeds. The result is a frantic and hilarious merry-go-round of corruption, lust and certifiable self-delusion. An evening of pure fun.
On October 7, 1835, Gogol sent writer Alexander Pushkin this message:
Do me a favour; send me some subject, comical or not, but an authentically Russian anecdote. My hand is itching to write a comedy... Give me a subject and I'll knock off a comedy in five acts – I promise, funnier than hell. For God's sake, do it. My mind and stomach are both famished.
Pushkin had just the story for Gogol during a time in 1833 when he was once mistaken for a government inspector. His notes alluded to an anecdote that became the basic story elements for The Government Inspector.
The Government Inspector has been performed as a play, a movie and an opera.