Polk County Itemizer-Observer
By Aaron Newton
MONMOUTH — When Western Oregon University debuts the first production of fall term, “The Government Inspector,” Thursday at Rice Auditorium, it may seem surprising that the play was written almost 200 years ago.
The satirical comedy, published by Nikolai Gogol in 1836, focuses on a small Russian town being visited by a — you guessed it — government inspector.
What follows is a two-hour comedy of errors full of corruption by almost every town official, greed, stupidity and mistaken identity — elements that aren’t far removed from today’s headlines and stories coming out of Washington, D.C.
“We see a level of incompetence on both sides of the aisle, even in the last couple of months,” said David Janoviak, play director. “This small town is a microcosm for how the American government is working right now.”
When officials hear that the inspector, who is incognito, is on his way, rampant speculation and anxiety over who the inspector actually is grips the town.
Janoviak used a 2008 adaption by Minneapolis-based playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, who infused elements of the Marx Brothers and Alice in Wonderland — two characters, Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky, are based on Tweedledee and Tweedledum — making the play an even more over-the-top comedy than the original.
“This is my first comedic show that I’ve been in here,” said Luke Armstrong, who plays Ivan, the stranger mistaken for the inspector. “Me and Rosie (Peterson, who plays Dobchinsky) watched SNL (“Saturday Night Live”) to get a sense of that goofy, out of control yet still in control kind of feeling.”
With performances scheduled Thursday through Sunday and Nov. 20 through Nov. 23, the classic tale of government corruption at its most raw is a must see.
When else will you see 14 WOU students parading about the stage in ridiculous costumes and makeup with outrageous accents and personas?
“If you’re going to see any one play this year and you just want to go to the theater and laugh until you cry, this is the show to see,” Janoviak said. “It’ll just be a fun night.”