Elgin-based Independent Players presents Russian satire

  • From left, Dana Udelhoven (mayor's wife), Jim Pierce (Osip), Steve Delaney (Bobchinsky), Beth McDonald (Grusha, the mayor's maid), and, in back, Devon Ortiz (Svetsunov) rehearse a scene from Nikolai Gogol's "The Government Inspector," a Russian "comedy of errors" that was first published in 1836.

    From left, Dana Udelhoven (mayor's wife), Jim Pierce (Osip), Steve Delaney (Bobchinsky), Beth McDonald (Grusha, the mayor's maid), and, in back, Devon Ortiz (Svetsunov) rehearse a scene from Nikolai Gogol's "The Government Inspector," a Russian "comedy of errors" that was first published in 1836. Courtesy of Independent Players

 
 
Posted3/9/2020 10:48 AM

What happens when an unlucky nobody is mistaken for a powerful Russian government official by a group of corrupt small town officials?

Discover the satirical answer when Independent Players presents Nikolai Gogol's "The Government Inspector." The show opened March 6, and performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, March 13-14 and 20-21, at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., Elgin.

 

Tickets, available at the door or online, are $20 for adults, $15 for students ages 14-21 and senior citizens. For details or reservations, call (847) 697-7374 or visit www.independentplayers.org.

The production is directed by IP's artistic director Don Haefliger, and features a cast that includes Steve Connell, Gabor Mark, Dana Udelhoven, Jim Pierce, Katrina Syrris, Steve Delaney, Rick Johnson, Trace Gamache, Nicole Netsen, Lynn Sciaraffa, Brian McLeod, Beth McDonald, Marilyn House and Devon Ortiz.

Originally published in 1836, "The Government Inspector" was based upon an anecdote allegedly recounted to Gogol by the great Russian novelist Alexander Pushkin. Gogol attempted to write a satirical play about imperial bureaucracy in 1832, but abandoned it for fear of censorship.

He then wrote to Pushkin seeking inspiration for a new satirical play in the form of "an authentically Russian anecdote."

Pushkin had a storied background and was once mistaken for a government inspector, so he wrote back: "Krispin arrives in the Province ... he is taken for an official ... The governor is an honest fool -- and the governor's wife flirts with Krispin, who then woos the Mayor's daughter."

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In a nutshell, these are the basic story elements of "The Government Inspector," Gogol's comic masterpiece. It is a comedy of errors, satirizing human greed, stupidity, narcissism and the extensive political corruption of Imperial Russia.

Yet, modern audiences can relate, as some of its elements are universal.

Jeffrey Hatcher, whose adaptation of the original Russian classic in 2008 premiered at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, said, "In one sense, it's the classic case of a very original and specific idea -- a hapless nobody is mistaken for a powerful government official by a group of corrupt, small town officials.

"But it is also because its characters are so recognizable to any person in any country in any age who has attended a city council meeting, met a contractor or had an inflated opinion of himself."

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