By Harry Mottram: David Parkin, the director of Axbridge Community Theatre’s production of Gogol’s comedy drama The Government Inspector said he was delighted with the first of two dress rehearsals. The play has a run of four nights in the town hall from Wednesday to Saturday ( November 22-25, 2023) has now sold out making it potentially one of ACT’s most successful shows in some time.

Photo credit: Sonia

Written by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright of Ukrainian origin in 1836, the classic of the stage has been part of the literary canon since it first was staged. It sends up local and national Government, officialdom, social climbers and above all the fickleness and falseness of people happy to ingratiate themselves in search of favours. The universal nature of these frailties is the reason together with some famous set pieces such as bribery scene, the seduction scene and the finale for the text being brought to life somewhere in the world ever since.

Former Mayor of Axbridge Tony Wilson takes on the role of Mayor with Tony Leach as Khlestakov and Phil Saunders as his servant Osip – one of the few characters who remain grounded in the unfolding story. Janet Gwinn is the Mayor’s over sexed wife and Bliss Bennet his daughter hoping for a big wedding. With a large cast with several new members of ACT taking to the stage for the first time the show is set to open on Wednesday.

The bar will be open before curtain up, in the interval and afterwards, while there is a programme available for £2. Doors open at 7pm so arrive early for the best unreserved seats.


Originally written in 1842 the satire on Russian society The Government Inspector has become one of the classics of the theatre as its themes are universal and as pertinent today as when it was penned in Imperial Russia.
The legend is that the writer Gogal was looking for an idea for a comedy play when his friend Pushkin told him about a time when he was mistaken for a government official – and the idea was born. Initially the drama looked set to be banned since it sent up the State’s officials – but the Tsar Nicholas I approved of the drama and it has never looked back.
Nikolai Gogal was born in 1809 in the Ukrainian town of Sorochyntsi during the Napoleonic Wars during which the French army invaded and occupied Moscow. He earned his reputation as a novelist, short story writer, and playwright.
As a child, Gogol helped stage plays in his uncle’s home theatre and was influenced by his father who wrote amateur plays for the stage.
In 1820, Nikolai Gogol went to a school of higher art in Nezhin where he began writing. He moved to Saint Petersburg after leaving school in search of fame as a writer but his poetry was turned down by publishers but in 1831 a volume of his Ukrainian stories (Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka) was published, and was met with success.
His style had a sophisticated sense of satire and humour setting him aside from some of his contemporaries and influencing writers in the future such as Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka and Vladimir Nabokov. Criticised for not advocating revolution by later writers his legacy led to successive Russian regimes struggling to either praise or condemn him.
Other works include Taras Bulba and The Portrait, the play The Marriage and the short story, The Overcoat.
From 1836 he lived abroad in Germany and Italy meeting up with Polish exiles and studying the arts in Rome. He returned to Russia in 1848 and died four years later.

Axbridge Town Hall. Wednesday 22nd November to Saturday 25th November 2023 7.30 PM

This amateur production of “The Government Inspector (Beaton)” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. on behalf of Samuel French Ltd. Title: Author Credits: “The Government Inspector (Beaton)” The Government Inspector
by Nikolai Gogol. Translated and adapted by Alistair Beaton