Director: Alvis Hermanis
Writer: Nikolai Gogol
Cast: Michael Maertens, Maria Happel, Dörte Lyssewski, Fabian Krüger, Oliver Stokowski, Hermann Scheidleder, Dirk Nocker, Johann Adam Oest
Seen on: 26.12.2015
The Mayor (Michael Maertens) of a small town has heard that a government inspector just arrived incognito in his town. He informs the most important men in his town, causing quite a stir among all of them, since neither of them really is without blame in their departments. When they find out that a stranger is staying at the inn, they decide that it must be the inspector and promptly start to shower him in gifts. The stranger – Chlestakov (Fabian Krüger) – is young and poor and doesn’t really know what prompts his good luck, but he’s determined to use it as long as it’s given.
There is a lot going on in this production of Der Revisor, from fake fat to actual live chickens on stage. It was a little too much for my taste, although the parts themselves were really good.
Hermanis has created a very weird world for the play, dominated by greenish-blue-grey sets that are not necessarly how you would want to decorate your own home, but that look wonderful nonetheless. It’s an evocative setting and easily the best part of a production that is full of good parts.
But the problem is that he keeps piling things on top of that. The play starts with a percussion number (not the only musical interlude) as we watch a couple of chickens strut on stage. Most of the actors and actress sport fake fat body parts (that obviously have some kind of symbolic meaning, but I’ll be damned if I can come up with anything that actually makes sense. Regardless it smacks of fat hate). There are slapstick elements, there’s a strip tease, there are giant rats. And it all lasts a good four hours (which was apparently already shortened since its premiere).
Ultimately this means that the text is lost. The play is lost. As we watch an awkward ballet over dirty toilets, we barely realize anymore that there’s open corruption and bribery, that every single person in this play is an awful human being (except maybe for the mayor’s daughter [Dörte Lyssewski] who is simply ditzy) and that there’s actually supposed to be some social criticism in it. Oh look, there are the chickens again. Have you seen their feathered claws?
There are moments when the play comes together. Most of these moments involve Maria Happel (who plays the mayor’s wife) who was simply wonderful, though I also enjoyed Dörte Lyssewski. (Not that the rest of the cast was bad.) But most of the time I just wished that there five things less going on on-stage at any given moment and that everything went on just a little shorter.