The Government Inspector: a historical comedy with a current twist

Members of Spectacle Theater rehearse for the fall play, The Government Inspector, during class in the Black Box Theater on Wednesday, October 25.
photo by Aaron Wu

The PHS drama department will be experimenting with something new this year as it works in conjunction with Spectacle Theatre to present its fall play, the satirical The Government Inspector. The show will be held in PHS’s Performing Arts Center on October 11, 17, and 18 in the auditorium. Tickets will be available for sale for seven dollars for students and $10 for adults.

The Government Inspector is in a unprecedented form that may be unfamiliar for many ,since it is a satirical play.

“[We haven’t done any satirical plays] that I’m aware of — maybe Our Town, but that was at least two years ago” said Adrianos Karachalios ’19, who plays the protagonist, Hlestakov, in the play.

The Government Inspector is written by Russian novelist Nikolai Gogol, and it is a comedy of errors that satirizes human greed, along with the extensive political corruption that held prominence in Imperial Russia. The play stands as an original amongst many other plays as it has the absence of a love interest and a central character, Hlestakov, who is meant to personify irresponsibility and other darker characteristics of human nature.

The drama department decided on The Government Inspector as this year’s play due to its unique nature as well as relevancy. In regards to the topic, Patricia Wray, the PHS drama teacher said, “I thought was kind of relevant because it’s about Russia and everybody [in the play] has a silly Russian accent. And it’s very funny it’s physically funny. There’s a lot of slapstick and it’s about government.”

Although PHS’s production of the play will take a few creative liberties, modernizing the traditional Russian president into a mayor who tweets regularly, the play stays true to the original in most regards. he set design,for example, tries to stay as traditional and authentic as possible. or set design the drama department took inspiration from a certain president’s plans to redesign the White House. In fact, Ms. Wray states that these plans were what made her think of the play in the first place.

“[What] sort of made me think about it was seeing photos of what the Trumps intend to do with the White House, redecoration [wise] and it was all gold and red” said Ms. Wray, “we want it to look as realistic as possible.”

To truly bring the script and atmosphere of the setting to life, the drama classes focused a great amount of energy on perfecting their accents.

“Something that the class has worked on a lot is their accents,” said Karachalios when asked about challenges during the production process, “and heavily enunciating with a Russian accent because it’s pretty tough.”

A majority of the cast of this play are drama class students, although Ms. Wray also allowed students that were not taking drama classes to audition for roles. This gave other students that weren’t as experienced with drama a chance to interact with more experienced actors.

“To me, it doesn’t matter that the fall play generally comes out of the drama seminar class. If we need more people, then I’m happy to bring them in because then they get the benefit of working with the older students and being with them on the stage.” said Wray.

The play incorporates as much authenticity as possible, and will be something completely new for many students, especially compared to last year’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, a Shakespeare play which was vastly different in content and style. Not only will the colorful set design appeal to many, but the Russian accents of the actors are sure to get the audience laughing.

“People should come because it’s going to be physically wonderful to look at and just very funny, and totally relevant.” said Wray.

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