Say what you want about politics, but the whole circus has an inherent theatricality (and sometimes melodrama) that makes it a perfect subject for satire. In that vein, the UCSB Theatre Department’s production of The Government Inspector, directed by Michael Bernard, tells the tale of government officials in a small town who go to extreme lengths to hide extensive corruption when they hear that an undercover inspector from their overseeing governing body is coming to assess their performance.
They mistake the wrong man for the inspector, a man who quickly takes advantage of his assumed position. “Everybody is corrupt and everybody is out for themselves, and they’re not as smart as they think they are,” says Bernard of the characters. “The show is slapstick funny — it’s a very relevant satire to today even though it takes place a long time ago.”
The play is originally by Nikolai Gogol, a writer in early-1800s Russia, and has been translated many times. The version UCSB is producing, by playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, is an adaptation of Gogol’s work. “When I read this version, I thought ‘Oh, this is a Marx Brothers movie,’” says Bernard. “It’s an adaptation with a modern sensibility.”
William Huffaker, a student actor who plays the school principal, calls the piece timeless: “The contemporary themes, bolstered by witty dialogue, disarm audiences and allow them to look inwardly. The characters in this play are yucky. However, they are also masterfully human.”
The Government Inspector runs November 16–20 at the Hatlen Theater at UCSB. It’s a classic comedy of greed and deception that will encourage audience members to vote in their next local election!
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit theaterdance.ucsb.edu, or call the box office at (805) 893-2064.