When Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young collide, magic happens.
Previous remarkable collaborations include Betroffenheit and The Statement, so Revisor is set on the same path.
Based on the satirical play, The Government Inspector, published in 1836 by Russian dramatist and novelist Nikolai Gogol, Revisor is a well-known story of mistaken identity with underlying subjects of deceit, tyranny, bureaucracy, and infiltration.
Using the original text to develop the story for both voice and body, Pite [using dancers from her company Kidd Pivot] and Young, bring a high-speed production of dance and theatre together with exaggerated movements that send up cartoon villains [reminiscent of the Icelandic children’s television series, Lazy Town], dramatic overplaying, and theatrical onslaught.
A party of greedy and corrupt officials become struck with panic when they learn that an undercover Inspector is in their midst investigating their obvious indiscretions. They somehow manage to mistake a preening and charming civil servant, who just happens to be staying in the local hotel, for the Inspector and then proceed to entertain and schmooze him in the hope of a satisfactory report. The civil servant, realising the group’s blunder, takes the opportunity to exploit them.
The synchronisation of the voice actors and the dancers is impeccable. Every cough, sneeze, breath and gasp had an associated movement – jarring but fluid, isolated but full bodied.
Every scene is overstated – a combination of mime, melodrama and caricature.
Ella Rothschild as the sinister Minister Desouza, Brandon Alley playing dual roles as the Doctor and Assistant to the Revisor and Rakeem Hardy as the nervous Postman were particular standouts.
The insanely talented music, sound and lighting design team of Owen Belton, Alessandro Juliani, Meg Roe [who is also the voice of the Narrator], Jay Gower Taylor and Tom Visser brought the stoic set, vivid projections and the electric bolts of lightening to be in sync, but also disconnected with the body and voice.
The second act strips the dancers of any costumes into plain dance clothes, where they replay grabs of the first act to the same voiceover reciting dance notations [Figure 1 meets Figure 9, right left].
This segment is sheer contemporary dance, where the purists thrive. Some feel this section pulls act one together, others may feel this part lacks cohesiveness and feels fragmented. Whatever your thoughts, there is no denying the supremacy of these dancers and the virtuosity of the material they are given.
An odd horned-back and antler-handed creature makes an incongruous appearance, just to throw a spanner in the works.
The final act brings back the lip-syncing commentary to connect it all together with the same irony and parody as act one, using an incredible soundscape built on words of the story. Ending with a tableau featuring a single light, the standing ovation is so very deserved.
Such is the originality of Pite and Young, I urge you to never miss anything they bring back in the future.