Think Yorkshire theatre and Northern Broadsides will inevitably spring to mind. And rightly so. Founded by Barrie Rutter in 1992 as a company producing brawny, no-nonsense theatre with a northern voice, Broadsides has since become a byword for quality.
It’s fitting then that Northern Broadsides kicks off Harrogate Theatre’s celebration of Yorkshire theatre and trio of co-productions entitled All Points North. A Government Inspector is Deborah McAndrew’s Tyke translation of Nikolai Gogol’s classic play, directed by consummate actor, veteran Broadsider and the company’s associate director Conrad Nelson.
Nelson, a man who bristles with fire and energy, is typically passionate about the production.
He said: “It’s a play full of life and full of characters that we all understand. We’ve all been in contact with local government corruption at some point in our lives. You only have to peer under the duvet to see it happening all around us.”
The story, in a nutshell is this: In a tiny town ruled by corrupt councillors with a love of dodgy dealings, a stranger is mistaken for a government inspector. In a bid to save their necks, the crooked town leaders attempt to wheedle and bribe their way out of trouble, lining the pockets of the mysterious fop with an eye for a quick buck.
In keeping with the adaptation’s northerness, brass band tunes are woven into the action to form the bedrock of A Government Inspector’s musical content.
Conrad said: “We always have a lot of musical content in Northern Broadsides and nine out of the 12 cast are brass band players. The brass band element also gives a social context, a morality almost.”
It’s yet another aspect of Northern Broadsides’ accessibility. “Accessibility,’ says Nelson with a shiver. “It’s one of those words that chills me to the bone, as people always think it means you have to dumb down to the lowest common denominator but it simply doesn’t.”
“What it means,’ he continues, “is you allow the audience into the play. You don’t block them off with concepts or ideas that make their journey to the theatre a cul-de-sac experience. After all, the audience are a massive part of the process. Without them, you may as well do the play in a closet on your own at night. A play is a sharing experience with an audience.”
A Government Inspector premieres at Harrogate Theatre from Thursday, September 7 to Saturday, September 22.
For tickets, telephone 01423 502 116 or visit www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk