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Stuart King

Review: REVISOR at Sadler’s Wells

Revisor - Sadler's Wells Following-on from their success with Betroffenheit, Crystal Pite’s company Kidd Pivot are again collaborating with Jonathon Young, this time for REVISOR which uses Gogol’s 1836 absurdist comic farce about political corruption - The Inspector General* - as its source material.

The established Canadian pairing have worked together on various pieces over the last decade and last evening, the Sadler’s Wells audience was treated to the latest quite mesmerising work of brilliance, which spectacularly and seamlessly interweaves theatre and dance.

The first section takes the literal translation (spoken by taped actors) and brings it physically to life in full period costume, with the addition of minimal furniture to give the scenes context.

A corrupt regional official in a Czarist Russian backwater is surrounded by cronies and lackies. All on the take, all equally suspicious of one another, each is merciless in their determination to remain the last one standing in a world of deceit, accusations and backstabbing. Into this hotbed, is introduced misinformation in the form of a rumour that a lowly visiting bureaucrat is in fact a high-ranking official in disguise, come to assess the inept workings of the regional office. The virulent spread of the rumour causes chaos, panic and much hilarity. Each of the characters is fundamentally flawed and unlikeable but the characterisations created by each performer were uniformly delicious and transfixing to observe.

Once the audience have enjoyed the story being outlined in sublime physical comedy, it is then replayed, section by section, in a fractious and anomalous deconstruction. Each stylised movement is mirrored verbally, as the written dance annotation is simultaneously read aloud. The effect on the audience is hypnotic and entrancing. There are moments where you catch yourself smiling, but realise you can barely breathe!

Visually spectacular with superb lighting and projections to lift the set into an otherworldly realm, REVISOR (the name for an official who ensures the accuracy of translations especially in legal documents - you’ll understand the wordplay if you see the production) is simply unmissable.

*Also sometimes known as The Government Inspector.