On April 28 and 29, 2023, Concord Academy staged two plays for Directors’ Workshop. This annual tradition is the most advanced performing arts course at CA and gives two dedicated seniors the opportunity to direct a play of their choosing. The student directors held auditions, oversaw designers, and instructed actors to craft an almost entirely student-run production. The end result is a performance just as polished as the CA mainstages.
The first of the two student-directed plays was Revizor, written by Nikolai Gogol and directed by Mars Bitout ‘23. Revizor, which translates to Inspector, is a satirical comedy written and set in 19th-century Russia. “Revizor is a fun play to just sit back, relax, and enjoy what is happening because it is so over the top,” said Mars. The show tells the story of corrupt village officials who mistake a drunk young man for a secret government inspector. The young man plays along with this mistake in order to steal as much money as possible. Hilarious amounts of bribery, seduction, and vodka ensue. The small but talented cast included Cozette Weng ’23, Emma Somol ’23, Conor Kennealy ’23, Ola Oladitan ’24, Elspeth Yeh ’24, and Mia Sinno Smith ’25. The cast masterfully played these characters, bringing life to both the crazy comedy and the more serious satire. In recounting their work with the actors, Mars said, “The cast had so much to offer that I don't think I could have done it without them.”
Mars and their set and costume designers worked to bring the old story into a more modern setting. Scene breaks were accompanied by jazzy, instrumental covers of modern songs. The costumes were also split between time periods. Most impressively, Mars personally translated the play from Czech to English. This last act held a lot of weight for them. Mars said, “I’m really in touch with my Slavic roots; I thought it would be nice for a Slavic person to do something. Revizor is mandatory reading in the Czech Republic.” Additionally, they spoke about how Gogol is often called a Russian writer, but is actually Ukrainian. They highlighted the importance of recognizing that aspect of his identity during the current war in Ukraine.
At the end of Revizor, the cast gathered for a wedding between the fake Revizor (Cozette) and the corrupt mayor’s daughter (Elspeth). The revizor departs and leaves behind a note revealing that he was a fake. Just then, the characters learn that the real Revizor has arrived and is waiting to see them. The final lines of the show are a monologue from the corrupt mayor (Ola) towards the audience. The call-out has been updated from its original 1800s language, but the message still stands. Who are we to laugh at the characters on stage? We may not be greedy Russian officials, but how do we behave when someone powerful enough to change our lives is watching? What would we do if someone mistook us for that powerful figure? Beneath the humor, Revizor stands as a powerful story about money and influence.