An Australian exclusive at Adelaide Festival was Canadian company, Kidd Pivot’s production of Revisor. Taken from the Russian name for his play Revizor, Nikolai Gogol’s play is better known to anglophone audiences as The Government Inspector.
Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young were both co-creators of their production of Revisor. It made its premiere in Vancouver, where the company is based, in February 2019. Pite in charge of the stunning choreography and Young was in charge of the voice actors who voiced all of the parts and the narration.
Kidd Pivot’s approach to Revisor is intelligent and innovative. The characters’ voices are heard through pre-recorded sound to which they lip-sync. Their movements are highly exaggerated and from contemporary dance rather than the usual theatrical style the play would normally be performed in.
Revisor is not a strict retelling of The Government Inspector. Some characters are missing and some details have changed. The Governor is the Director of the Complex (performed by Doug Letheren) and there is no daughter, just his flirtatious wife (Jennifer Florentino in the part). However, the key premise remains: The Director/Mayor/Governor has received a tip-off that a government inspector is coming in secret to do an inspection and write a report. When a government official is found staying at the inn, charging everything to his bill, and has an unlikely story about why he is in town (to move a comma, (yes, really)), the Director/Mayor/Governor and all of his officials become convinced that this man is the secret government inspector they’ve been warned about. The man is swiftly housed in the Director/Mayor/Governor’s house and lavished with welcome parties and bribes, and decides it’s too good to pass up and to plays along.
A female narrator‘s voice, Meg Roe, is played throughout. At first merely narrating what is happening and who is doing what. However, in the second half, all of the actions from the first half are repeated, but with the dancers now stripped bare, no longer in their costumes that define and identify them. She will tell them to walk two steps to the right, and that is what they will do. In this act the dancers truly shine, their movement becomes freer and more fluid. The choreography allows the dancers to travel across the floor, making use of the entire stage, compared to the choreography of the first act, which depicted the characters and narrative in a more rigid manner.
Is this repeated and revised act the real one? Is this the first act as we saw it but with a comma moved to its rightful place?
While the whole cast is wonderful, special mention needs to be made for the performances of some of the dancers. The postmaster, played by Rakeem Hardy, is particularly compelling and impressive, especially in one of the later scenes where he struggles to tell them what he has discovered. Brendon Alley in the role of Osip. the poorly-treated servant to the Revisor was particularly impressive for his fast, exaggerated movements, which appeared almost akin to being electrocuted when he is hiding under the bed. His ramblings, and associated movements, before his master wakes, are like witnessing a descent into madness. Brandon Alley also performs the role of Doctor Harlow in Kidd Pivot’s Revisor. Jennifer Florentino was delightful as the over the top, flirtatious, fluid director’s wife, Anna.
Kidd Pivot has perfected its very contemporary take on The Government Inspector in Revisor, and exhibits very talented dancers, tight choreography and wonderful voice actors. We look forward to seeing future Kidd Pivot productions should they make it to Australia.
Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Festival.
Adelaide Festival 2023 and the Australian exclusive run of Revisor have now concluded.
OTHER ADELAIDE FESTIVAL CONTENT
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So Much Myself: Piano Portraits shines new light on archival footage of memorable women
The Cage Project: piano as you’ve never heard it before
The Sheep Song warns be careful what you wish for
So Much Myself: Piano Portraits at Adelaide Festival tells a millennium of stories celebrating discovery and courage
Cédric Tiberghien is coming to Australia for recitals and the world premiere of The Cage Project