Exploring the greatest new and classic plays


081 – The Government Inspector, by Nikolay Gogol

May 31, 2024 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

Vladimir Nabokov described The Government Inspector as the “greatest play in the Russian language”. Gogol’s comedy of mistaken identity is an unexpected mix of fantastical farce and serious social satire. The audience and critics were duly confused by its unusual form when it premiered in St Petersburg in 1836 with the Tsar himself in attendance. Some were outraged at its unpatriotic attack on Russia and its governance, while others dismissed it as nothing more than a cheerful comedy. Gogol himself was dismayed by its reception, pronouncing rather sententiously as he took his leave of Russia for the next twelve years, “a prophet has no honour in his own country.”

The play has survived as a paradigm of political corruption in any age or place, as well as for its exuberant comic form which allows for malleable theatrical interpretation. As we record this episode, a new rendition arrives on the London stage in Patrick Myles’s knock-about adaptation, which is set in a region of England at an indeterminate date, but which has many resonances to the political landscape of our time.

I’m delighted to welcome Patrick to the podcast to help us learn more about this classic play and its enigmatic author.

Patrick Myles

Patrick Myles is an actor, writer, director and producer. His acting credits include work on stage, TV and film, and his writing and directing comprise a number of short films, including his adaptation of Nikolay Gogol’s famous short story, The Overcoat, with Jason Watkins and Tim Key heading a strong cast. The film was listed for a BAFTA award for Best British Short in 2019. 

Recommended Play

Patrick recommended Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Molière.


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