Tuesday, March 21, 2023




 Revisor. Adapted from The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol

Created by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young. Written by Jonathon Young. Choreographed and Directed by Crystal Pite. Original Music and Sound Design Owen Belton, Alessandro. Juliani and Meg Roe. Scenic Design and Reflective Light Concept Jay Gower Taylor. Costume Design Nancy Bryant. Lighting Design Tom Visser. Assistant to the Creators Eric Beauchesne.

Cast and characters (in order of appearance) 


Renée Sigouin Misha Doug Letheren Director of the Complex. Rakeem Hardy Postmaster Wieland. Rena Narumi Interrogator Klak. Ella Rothschild Minister Desouza. Brandon.Alley Doctor Harlow. Jennifer Florentino Anna (Wife of the Director). Brandon Alley Osip (Assistant to the Revisor). G regory Lau The Revisor. Jade Chong Apprentice/Swing. Julian HuntApprentice/Swing


Meg Roe Narrator / Inspector. Scott McNeil Director of the Complex. AlessandroJuliani Postmaster Wieland. Kathleen Barr Interrogator Klak. NicolaLipman Minister Desouza. Gerard Plunkett Doctor Harlow
Amy Rutherford Anna. Ryan Beil Osip.Jonathon Young The Revisor

 Kidd Pivot Contemporary Dance Theatre. Her Majesty’s Theatre. Adelaide Festival. March 17-19 2023

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins


In 2017, Canadian choreographer, Crystal Pite and writer and actor Jonathan Young amazed  Adelaide Festival audiences with Betroffenheit, inspired by a tragic event in Young’s family as a result of a house fire. Betroffenheit, which can be translated as shock, took a wrenching tragedy but offered the enlightening possibility of survival. This powerful dance theatre with its positive message brought audiences to their feet in unrestrained ovation. This year, Pite and Young have again collaborated, but this time the work owes its creation to an entirely different inspiration. As their source, Young the writer and Pite the choreographer and director have adapted Nikolai Gogol’s satirical novel, The Government Inspector about absurd bureaucracy and political and person corruption. So far removed from the themes of Betroffenheit, Revisor is also bringing audiences to their feet in rapturous acclaim. This is the work of genius, utterly unexpected, totally surprising and so unique in its choreography that Gogol’s nineteenth century satire appears  entirely reimagined for today’s audiences.

Young’s adaptation is immediately accessible with the opening voiceover that sets the scene in the office of the director of the village complex. Young’s text provides the essential scenario, delivered as voiceover by the actors and perfectly synchronized with Pite’s inventive choreography. The story is simple enough. The village learns that a government inspector is sent to the town to investigate. They mistake a lowly clerk for the inspector and set about to impress him with bribes and favours. He sees through their hypocrisy and takes advantage of the situation. The minor official leaves and a letter reveals the truth just as the real Government Inspector arrives. The plot provides the perfect scenario for Pite’s choreographic interpretation, Each dancer acts out the action to the actors’ delivery of the text as well as creating staccato gestures to the lines. Text and movement are in perfect unison, each word, suiting the gesture and each gesture perfectly expressing the emotional response to the word. Angular and jerky. each dance pattern evokes the consternation, confusion and absurdity of the stereotypes – the corrupt mayor, the incompetent doctor, the sneaky postman and the corrupt interrogator. Highly stylized, this puppet dance of fools captures Gogol’s cynical comedy perfectly. The impulse of action and reaction is spontaneous and yet the detail of the dance is so carefully worked out that every physical response to the crisis appears entirely natural.

What is so amazing is the ability of the dancers to respond to Young’s text with such truth and energy while also performing Pite’s expressive physicalization of emotion and dialogue. The result is a mesmerizing display of dance and theatre through the interpretation of Gogol’s The Government Inspector. The caricature then shifts into expressive dance as Young’s text becomes a voiceover of official documentation. The veil of comic absurdity is lifted to reveal the essence of Gogol’s condemnation of bureaucracy as Pite introduces a flexibility and suppleness to her choreographic notation. The dance becomes a fluid expression of the controlling nature of  bureaucratic manipulation. The dance becomes balletic at times as the dancers intertwine in pairs or threesomes, or as an ensemble, sheep-like responding to a barked authority. There is the pervading sense of lost control and the urge to cling to conformity. Pite creates a sense of need for community as a solo dancer is joined by another and then another, responding to instruction from the voiceover to perform the bureaucratic tasks. Gradually the group coalesces in an ensemble, clinging to conformity and controlled by the demands of authority.

Finally Revisor returns to a depiction of the absurdity of Gogol’s characters. The dancers assume their characters’ costuming, ludicrous behavior, highly stylized gesturing and exaggerated text as they learn of the letter revealing the true identity of Khalestakov, the lowly clerk. We are left with a final tableau of the characters frozen by the announcement that the arrival of the real Government Inspector is terrifyingly imminent. Pite and Young and the company of Vancouver’s Kidd Pivot Dance Theatre Company have reimagined Gogol’s The Government Inspector with a powerful resonance that lends the source and Revisor a resonance and relevance to contemporary society. Gogol’s play offered a warning to a Tsarist regime already on the brink of decline. Revisor’s inspired interpretation reminds us with stunning effect that position and prestige do not necessarily equate with honour and respectability.

Like Betroffenheit before it, Revisor stands out as an unforgettable highlight of my visit to the 2023 Adelaide Festival. With her latest masterpiece Pite has once again established herself as an artist of outstanding originality and invention.  The long standing ovations at the Adelaide performances will long remain in the memory of those fortunate enough to have seen this exceptional work from Vancouver’s Kidd Pivot Contemporary Dance Theatre.