Sunday, February 12, 2012

Revizor, or the Inspector-General

I find myself prepping for an upcoming production of the Revizor.  Rimas Tuminas is reviving the production in Lithuania.  He has been directing Moscow's Vakhtangov Theater the past several years, but returns to his home theater from time to time.  Here is a clip from his first production in 2001.  Previews show Sergei Makovetsky cast as the mayor, but will have to wait until the 29th to see!

Vladimir Nabokov noted in his book on Nikolai Gogol that the play languished under heavy-handed productions for decades before Meyerhold got a hold of it in 1926 and set the appropriate tone and sense of humor that Gogol had imagined.  It is this version of the play that has come down to us.  Pretty amazing given that the political climate in the early Soviet Union wasn't much different than it was in Russia in 1842, when the play was first produced, but then Nabokov warned that this delicious story shouldn't be read as political satire, but rather as a pioneering work of art, defying all theatrical conventions, confounding theater directors, critics and censors alike at the time.

The Revizor is considered the epitome of satire, and perhaps Gogol's greatest work.  It seems just about everyone has tried his hand at this play at one time or another, including Danny Kaye in the 1949 Hollywood production.  There is also a little known Egyptian version, which dates from Nasser's time, 1956.  Here is the 1996 Russian screen production, featuring Nikita Mikhalkov as the mayor and Oleg Yankovsky as the judge.   Unfortunately, no subtitles.

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