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  • Chris O'Rourke

Dublin Dance Festival 2021: Revisor

Revisor: Crystal Pite and Jonathan Young/Kidd Pivot. Photo by Michael Slobodian


From Meyerhold to Roddy Doyle, Gogol's 1836 classic The Government Inspector has had many admirers and interpreters. Joining that illustrious list is Canadian dance theatre company, Kidd Pivot, whose extraordinary Revisor takes Gogol's tale into some strange and wondrous places. Choreographed and directed by Crystal Pite, and created in collaboration with playwright Jonathan Young, Revisor offers a cartoon take on all things corrupt. If it covers a lot of familiar ground, Revisor's strength lies not in its tale but in its telling. Which features an eight strong ensemble delivering an outstanding piece of dance theatre.

A tale of bureaucracy, betrayals, and mistaken identity, Gogol's comic tale sees an opportunist taking full advantage of all that bribery and deceit will allow. Superbly directed for screen by Jeff Tudor, recorded during its run at Sadler's Well, London in March 2020, Revisor sees dancers lip-syncing words to perfection as their characters respond to stage directions and exposition issued by an invisible narrator. A "fixation with the mouth and its emissions" provides both a narrative and physical impetus, with words replacing music as the impulse towards movement and gesture. Which superficially look cartoonish, often borrowing from the exaggerated comedic stylings of early silent comedy, But Revisor is way smarter than that. As Gogol's tale unfolds, so do some terrific performances, with Cindy Salgado's Anna, and Ella Rothschild's Desouza scene stealing simply by taking to the stage.

Revisor: Crystal Pite and Jonathan Young/Kidd Pivot. Photo by Michael Slobodian

If Revisor doesn't take itself too seriously, it takes its craft very seriously indeed. As intrigues and deceits pile up Young's script fractures, allowing un-costumed history to repeat and reimagine itself. Story giving way to mantra like phrases, words giving way to movement, with both refusing to be limited by meaning. A series of superb solos, duets, and group pieces by dancers Doug Letheren, Jermaine Spivey, Gregory Lau, Rena Narumi, Ella Rothschild, David Raymond, Cindy Salgado and Tiffany Tregarthen serve up unforgettable, breath taking sequences. As the tale re-emerges in costume, its ending is weakened for having dragged us back from a place where words weren't up to the task. Better to end the night with a kiss than an explanation.

As with the brilliant Betroffenheit, at the heart of Revisor lies some astonishing dancers, and Pite's inimitable choreography which is touched by genius. If Kidd Pivot were a racehorse, you'd bet on them every time. From lights, to costumes, to sound, to design, in performance and in terms of choreography, Revisor reminds us that Kidd Pivot are not just standard bearers for dance theatre, they set the standard bearers strive to emulate. Not to be missed.

Revisor: Crystal Pite and Jonathan Young/Kidd Pivot, is available online as part of Dublin Dance Festival 2021.

For tickets or more information, visit Dublin Dance Festival 2021.

Dublin Dance Festival 2021 runs May 18 to May 30.


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