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Though it boasts one of the dullest names for a play, like, ever, do not be misled by the title…
As a member of Shepherds Group Brass Band, obviously I may be a little biased, but the music was performed brilliantly. The actors’ talents were woven impeccably into the plot; despite the fact they aren’t even in the original script. In fact, the whole ‘Little Yorkshire Village’ scenario was executed so convincingly I forgot the play was supposed to be Russian.
But one of the most impressive things in the performance was the characters. I noticed how cartoon-like all the characters actually were pretty early on, and they kept it up beautifully throughout the whole play, injecting a great feeling of strength and energy on stage. I absolutely loved Jon Trenchard’s interpretation of the role, adding flavour to the character’s flamboyance, wit, slyness and general personality by using his piccolo as a part of the character.
The choreography was all brilliantly appropriate, executed perfectly and fantastically polished. The little scene in which Snapper tells the story of a bee and everyone follows it was just amazing. The way in which all the characters stood around Snapper also added to the comedy. The scene in which Snapper is shown around the village and inspects all the institutions merged the acting and the music brilliantly and was just flawless and very funny.
There honestly isn’t much more I can think of to say about the play except that it was absolutely hilarious. It really is a must-see for (almost) all ages!
Ela Portnoy, Year 11
Northern Broadsides have pulled out all the stops to create this entertaining story of a town immersed in the consequences of their crooked ways and shifty deals, and what happens when the ‘government’ comes to call.
Adapted from the original Russian play by Nikolai Gogol, the story has been updated and relocated to a small town in Yorkshire, where a great array of large personalities live. This fresh and innovative adaptation, incorporating live brass band music, a tradition at the heart of Yorkshire, is packed full of laughs, and is certainly a spectacular evening out.
The comedy aspect of the play does not fail to impress, in particular the commitment of the actors to their ‘larger than life’ characters. Through the manipulation of their voices, bodies and action, the cast manage to transfer cartoon to stage, tipping each character slightly over the edge of normality and building up individual stories and personalities. With a flash of every colour shown from the Stuttering Sidebottom to the lavish ‘want to be WAG’ Mrs Snapper, the physical gags keep rolling as the pace quickens. Two standout characters were young Jonathan Snapper, mistaken for the government inspector, and Mrs Annie Belcher, wife of the ‘leader’ of the council, highlighted for their ability to submerge the audience into watching their every move, from their exaggerated gestures to the simple twitch of an eyebrow.
The cast capture the audience, relaxing you in your seat, unprepared for the dramatic twist that is to come. And just as they have you in the palm of their hand, their ability to snap the atmosphere is outstanding, startling the audience with a dark, satirical twist, a comment on the ability of a small town, or organisation, to get caught up in the warped ways of corruption.
‘Are you laughing at me?’ Belcher questions the audience, quieting the laughter of the previous gag, ‘well you’re laughing at the mirror – what’s funny about that?’ And as the reality seeps in, they leave you with mixed feelings about the current ways of society.
Definitely one to see, especially if you are a true northerner: not suitable for younger audiences due to slight adult themes and impolite language.
Hannah Brown, Year 11
It starts with an army of brass instrument wielding villagers playing their song softly and then come on the lights. The band goes full volume as they explode into action. In front of us are the 12 members of the cast. One thing about this cast which stands out from most is their extreme musical talent. As well as being expert actors, they are all also incredibly talented musicians, each “outstanding in their field”. This begs the question from the ‘inspector’ “well why don’t they come inside from the rain then” to which he receives thunderous applause.
A Government Inspector is set in a small village somewhere between Yorkshire and Lancashire. No one ever comes and no one ever goes; that is why the townsfolk are so sure that they have found their inspector when a peculiar, “glamorous” young gentleman arrives on their doorstep. Theman who goes by the name of Mr Snapper is explaining in his camp, well-spoken way how he has ended up in his miserable position, stuck hungry and penniless in the middle of nowhere.
As much as there were some tenuous puns and jokes in this play, if you are willing to sift through them a little, you will find the gems which are among them. Aside from this, much of the jokes were intelligently placed and hilarious in context. Some would perhaps fly over the heads of younger audiences but the whole family would find some enjoyment in the humour of the play. You will be laughing for most of the two hours in the theatre.
The stand out actor in this cast for me was Jon Trenchard who played Snapper. His portrayal of the character was excellent and you could really see the flamboyant, carefree character of this rich daddy’s boy shining through, past the comical costume and deep into his soul.
The set is wonderment itself. The purpose built bandstand style roofing and podium is the basis of which different pieces such as stairs, tables and even a slide out piano move around. It constantly changes throughout the play and this is done each and every time stylized and perfectly synchronised. Longbottom and Sidebottom seem to almost work their sequences into a comedy comparable to any of the great slapstick comedians, all happening perfectly in time to the music. This meant that you weren’t left waiting for a tiresome blackout whilst some clumsy stagehands fumbled around changing the set.
If you get a chance to see this play in any form, take this chance. If you are willing to laugh until it hurts, you will enjoy this play.
Harry Gibb, Year 10
At 6.20 I arrived at the York Theatre Royal to meet the cast of ‘A government Inspector’. I found the props and costumes very amusing and the actors we met were very friendly. Then at 7.20 we went to seat ourselves in The Upper Circe I sat in row b seat number six. It started at 7.30 and ended quite late around 10.15. I have to say all the acting was great I loved all of it. The story was brilliant and lot’s and lot’s of very creative comedy in there ‘marvellous’. I would have to say all the times I have gone to the Theatre Royal to see a play they were all good, but this play was by far the best and everyone involved should be very proud of themselves.
The play itself is about a stranger who arrives penniless into a northern pennine town and is mistaken by the local business people as a government inspector who was due at any time to review business procedures. The locals are worried that their ‘dodgy dealings’ will get them into trouble and in various comical situations they bribe the lucky stranger who takes advantage of their ‘generosity’
Jordan Wood, Year 7
To be honest I didn't know what to expect of this play. At 6:30 an hour before the production started we were asked to join one of the members of cast to do a little backstage tour, we saw all of the props. Then I started to realise that this would be good, but again I still didn't know.
So when the play started within a couple of minutes the cast brought laughter from the whole audience. It was incredibly funny. The idea of having music in this play was amazing. The instruments were loud and powerful. They were playing musical instruments such as trumpets, a clarinet and trombones and many more. Later on in the play we saw all of the props we all saw backstage.
The actors and actresses were full of life and played there characters very well. All the actors had different voices. My favourite actor was probably the Government inspector (well he wasn't in the end.) I liked him the most because he played his role fantastically and not only did he act he even sang! (well he tried!)
The layout of the stage looked fabulous full of all those cabinets, and papers scrambled across the floor!
This was all done by the amazing Northern Broadsides in partnership with Harrogate Theatre.
The moral of the story was things aren't always what they seem.
The Government Inspector is a fantastic and funny play. I would recommend it to all age groups.
Tammi Clarke, Year 7AP
A Government Inspector is an utterly superb piece of theatre. It’s obscure, unexpected humour and wit makes it a thoroughly enjoyable performance, with actors who can play both catchy live music and have perfect comic timing.
The story follows the councillors of a town so small it seems to have been forgotten about by the rest of the country. A case of mistaken identity results in increasing carnage as they desperately try to cover up their wrongdoings, (while doing even worse things in the process!) Every character is completely individual and each presents a different part of a classic small town: the teacher, the healthcare officer, the police, the judge, the postman and ‘the leader’ and his showy wife and daughter.
Not only was the cast excellent, from their accents to the stances they had as alternating characters, but the set also stood out. Instead of blacking out any set changes, the play incorporated this into the performance, making sure the fast-pace of the play didn’t lose its flow. For example, during set changes, the cast would be playing the brass instruments that made several appearances throughout the show and the set would be moved around in a way that reflected the rhythm of the music, so the audience’s eyes were never diverted away from the stage.
In summary, it is really refreshing to see a piece of theatre that allowed me to laugh out loud and seriously consider things at different points; despite the comedy of the ending, some thought-provoking lines are delivered to the audience to make us aware that we have been laughing at a “mirror” of ourselves the whole time, as everybody is capable of manipulating things to benefit themselves. I would highly recommend A Government Inspector to anybody who loves comedy and enjoys being able to relate to the (very exaggerated!) but realistic interpretation of small town life.
Ellie Green, Year 12
A Government Inspector is a hilarious, belly-aching, well-written and acted play. It’s honestly a must-see for any generation!
If you want to laugh, I mean really laugh, the belly-aching sort that makes you lean over and whack your head on the seat in front of you, not a polite little titter because everyone else around you is laughing, this is the play for you. I think each and every character has a defining and hilarious characteristic that just kept coming back and delighting you once again!
The storyline followed a group of local councillors from a small Pennine village that’s not sure if it’s in Yorkshire and Lancashire, who receive reports of a government inspector in the area. They all have some sort of crooked scam up their sleeves, and the village is in a mess. The “leader”, as he likes to be called by the lesser mortals, Councillor Belcher starts organising the tidy up of the village, inviting in police and the councillors for different departments.
After a brilliantly funny scene where you saw the council meeting, the set (which was fabulous) was slightly changed until it resembled hotel room. We then met “Sir” Jonathon Snapper. Where should I start? The acting of this part was incredible. He had an ability to look like a cartoon, rushing and dashing around and over-exaggerating in such a great way. His vocabulary was sublime, his words flowed and his posh London accent stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the Yorkshire folk. It was revealed that after losing all his money gambling in Leicester, he had to hitch a lift, along with his PA, to the nearest place. Which turned out to be, coincidently, the small town that the play was set in. After two weeks charging everything to his account, the waiter finally says enough is enough, but poor Jonathon is “famished” and “wasting away”. At the time of writing this I have a ghastly sore throat, and I put that down to the actors spectacular comic timing!
As the play progressed, we met more characters, one of my favourites being Bob Sidebottom, the stuttering biker who’s impeccable duck-egg suit with a burgundy and yellow jumper didn’t even have a crease on by the end of the show. At the interval my friend told me that if she could have any wish it would be to be able to act like him. I agree. Even when the scene wasn’t focused on him, he could still cause the entire audience to laugh, as he stayed in character throughout the whole show, and he acted some moments which were sheer slap stick heaven!
We also met Mrs Belcher and her daughter Mary Belcher. These were other amazingly acted parts, but, to be fair, they all were. I cannot specifically remember moments exactly, but they could make us howl with witty laughter.
I won’t give away the end, but be prepared to howl in fits of hysterical laughter. And I’m not exagerating.
In short, it truly was an amazing play, full of beautiful brass band moments by a live band. I would really encourage anyone to go and see it, you will start laughing randomly in the streets at moments when they come into your head again, and people will look at you quite strangely, but it’s seriously worth it.
Loads of credit is due to the actors for maintaining such an energetic and rigorous play, and making it as hilarious as it was! A definite five stars, I really really enjoyed it!
Molly Horner, Year 9
The first impression of the play I described as ‘cool’. I wanted it to start as quick as possible. When it started the band came on stage and played and they did this in other places in the show as well. I found this a great way to calm everyone down and relax and enjoy the show....
The play the ‘Government Inspector’ was so funny and I really enjoyed it. It was directed perfectly and the stage set was exciting!!!! I loved how the musical instruments played, to change each different set. I could see it was well rehearsed and I had a great view of the play, to see this, on the upper circle row B. The prices to see this play are £10-£20 and I feel that it is a fair enough price for this play. Even though I would of said that this play is aimed at adults, I feel that teenagers would enjoy it as well, and is definitely one to see even if you’re not into theatre that much.
It is quite a long play and has one interval. That didn’t affect how I felt about it as I found it entertaining and would happily go and see it again. The man who played the fake Government Inspector was so good at his part; I was flying out of my seat. He made it entertaining, funny, enjoyable, and everyone was waiting for the next funniest thing to happen. I also enjoyed the mother and daughter story because of the funniness of it.
Most of what made it funny was the face expression and the funny noises that were made. Everything was live, the voices, the singing, the instruments, even the funny noises, and that’s what got people’s attention.
Overall I would give this performance a 10 out of 10. It was the best performance at the theatre I have ever seen. So go and see it NOW!!!
Georgia Hickman, 9SER
I thought this one was better than the last one we saw because this was funny and you could understand the words. This one had quite a bit of bad words so I would recommend it for about 14 and over.
The play was really good and so were the actors too. I find the actors really funny because they were good at acting and when they said funny things they just carried on and they didn't even laugh or grin unless they were meant to so the actors were good. I found the play good because it had a variety of feelings because some bits were funny and some bits were sad and the script was well written to because it didn't have to much rude bits or too much sad bits. Overall I thought the play was excellent. If I was a judge I would give it one hundred out of ten because it was that good.
Jay Kitson, Year 7