Born from the Young Pleasance brood, Incognito theatre in association with Pleasance present their wild and witty take on this secondary school favourite – Gogol's
It's also a joy to see an ensemble without a lead. All five actors certainly have their fifteen minutes, but as a unit they work superbly well together.
The five male actors use Total Theatre and farce to staggering effect and bring Gogol's whirling satire of government corruption crashing into the Fringe. The actors wear Victorian but bland shirts and braces, still use the original Russian names of the characters but throw in the occasional modern references for good measure. Some of these added contemporary gags do occasionally fall flat; when being introduced to the editor of the local rag, conman Khlestakov enquires “so when is your trial?” and everyone remembers that all journalists are still scum post-Leveson. For the most part, though, they add to the pithy charm of the young company's production, with the troupe cursing and slapstick-ing their way through the morality tale.
When the quintet hit their stride this show is a hurricane of big, fast-paced action. The group show a control far beyond their years. Everything is pointed, direct, and even the broader jokes (a camp, Northern postman, for example) are pulled off with skill and dexterity with each gurn, grimace and facial tick feeling choreographed, perfected and strong.
It's also a joy to see an ensemble without a lead. All five actors certainly have their fifteen minutes, but as a unit they work superbly well together. Early scenes where they enact the famed dream sequences or huddle together to form a plan are a joy to watch and put these young players in good stead for the future. Furthermore, it's a pleasure to see a young company attack a classic text with all the gusto of youth. So many times I've begged to know why a youth group has been handed a heavy play and expected to fulfil it seriously. This group have, apparently, been given free reign and it has absolutely paid off.