A star rating of 4 out of 5.

The Marylebone Theatre’s newest addition – The Government Inspector – is a show that relies entirely on the mettle and talent of its cast. With a script rife with whacky accents, puke humour and political parodies that are thoroughly on-the-nose, you get the impression that an actor would need to enter it with an all or nothing approach.


Thankfully, this cast chose all and together – thanks in part to a joint CV that includes Ghosts, Doctor Who and Angelos Epithemiou – manage to translate this 19th-century Russian play into an absurd and very fun British comedy.

Based on Nikolai Gogol’s original script, the Government Inspector takes place in a rural backwater run by the corrupt members of Hornswoggle Borough Council. In charge is the blatantly crooked Governor Swashprattle (played by Dan Skinner) who, alongside a judge, a vicar, a doctor and a postmaster, work to fleece the residents for all they can get.

But, when the Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee of the council – Ivan Grubble (Dan Starkey) and Ivan Brabble (Peter Clements) – show up with news of a government inspector, the group starts to panic, and descend on the town’s newest entrant, the posh and seemingly wealthy Percy ‘Foppy’ Fopdoodle (Kiell Smith-Bynoe).

In their attempts to woo – AKA bribe – the gentleman, they introduce him to the Governer’s wife (Martha Howe-Douglas) and daughter (Chaya Gupta), all the while completely failing to realise that Foppy is not in fact the man they think.

More like this

Unsurprisingly, Smith-Bynoe and Howe-Douglas are the absolute standouts. Smith-Bynoe is particularly magnetic as the ersatz government inspector, who is as foppish in nature as he is in name. As his character swaggers about the stage, spewing out (sometimes literally) entitled comments and insane brags, you find yourself completely unable to dislike him, even when he tries to get together with both the Governer’s wife and daughter.

Meanwhile Howe-Douglas is charming as the social climbing Mrs Swashprattle who makes no bones about the fact that she wants to move to London and dance with all the counts. Her bizarre Black Country accent perfectly bounces off Smith-Bynoe’s over the top RP, and their seamless comic timing gives us some of the best moments of the show – plus it’s a huge treat for Ghosts fans to finally get the chance to see Fanny and Mike interact.

Kiell Smith-Bynoe in The Government Inspector. He's holding a cane and wearing a top hat as he walks off stage.
Kiell Smith-Bynoe in The Government Inspector.

Props also needs to be given to the Ivan’s Grubble and Brabble, who ping dialogue off each other faster than a game of table tennis, and Dan Skinner, who glues the whole plot together and gives a marvellous hissy fit at the end – ideal if you enjoy watching the humiliation of politicians.

It’s fair to say that despite the somewhat recognisable themes, the relatability of the show doesn’t quite land. Often the play opts for cheap shots (i.e. “It’s not the number of votes that counts, it’s who counts the number of votes”) rather than genuine political commentary. That being said, I’m not sure the show is actually trying to make a great statement about government corruption, surely it just wants to be a fun romp with a bit of coarse humour and falling over gags.

If that’s what it’s aiming for, then it certainly pulls it off. Does every joke hit? Not really. But you’re constantly chuckling and immersed in the silly but fun story. My advice, go see it.

Did you know we also have reviews for the Glass Menagerie, and Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York)? Plus For Black Boys.

When and where can I see The Government Inspector?

Dan Starkey in the poster for The Government Inspector play
The Government Inspector. The Government Inspector

The Government Inspector will run at The Marylebone Theatre from now until 15th June, with shows every Monday to Saturday.

The theatre is a new space just a few minutes from Baker Street (Bakerloo, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Jubilee lines) and first class attractions like the Sherlock Museum and Madame Tussauds – speaking of which, did you know that Ncuti Gatwa is getting his own Doctor Who waxwork?

How to get The Government Inspector tickets

Tickets for The Government Inspector are on sale now at London Theatre Direct.

The price starts at just £25 and thanks to the small space, you’re guaranteed a great view no matter where you sit.

Buy The Government Inspector tickets at London Theatre Direct


For more theatre magic, here's how to get Inside No.9 Stage/Fright tickets, plus the best outdoor theatre shows and best west end shows.