March 9, 2019
With 2015’s Betroffenheit, choreographer Crystal Pite and actor Jonathon Young turned personal tragedy into breathtaking art. Ask anyone lucky enough to snag a ticket; they’ll likely say the Dora and Olivier Award-winning production is still seared into their minds.
The question before Revisor, Pite’s and Young’s new collaboration, opened this week was if the same electricity could be captured without a back story as impactful as the death of Young’s daughter in a fire. Pite and Young have proven that Betroffenheit wasn’t lightning in a bottle: it will surely strike as many times as they choose to combine forces.
Though Revisor dives into the horror of a much larger, abstract and seemingly impenetrable force — political corruption, social injustice and violence — it hits with the same immediate, visceral discomfort as if it was tapping into a recent personal trauma.
Revisor reimagines Nikolai Gogol’s mid 19th-century play The Government Inspector. In their program notes, Pite and Young argue that it has been misread as a farce about mistaken identity when it was written to be “an urgent moral indictment, a religious allegory and a portrait of the universal soul in exile.”
Modern adaptations of the story, in which a low-level employee is mistaken for a high-powered inspector and spoiled with riches, luxury and flattery by a corrupt mayor and his entourage, have treated it as a comedy — from the 1949 film musical starring Danny Kaye to the Christopher Guest movie Waiting for Guffman.
The power in Revisor is its revision of that legacy.
Read the full review: The Toronto Star‹ Back to timeline