Henfield Theatre Company returns to the stage

Henfield Theatre Company is delighted to get back to the stage with a production of The Government Inspector after weathering the Covid storm.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 8:05 am

As spokesman Martin Love explains: “We had a terrible start to the Covid crisis at the Henfield Theatre Company: it was two days before the dress rehearsal of our March play last year when we realised that we would not be able to continue with the production, and so it was cancelled. It was demoralising, to say the least!

“Undaunted, we set off on a completely new path and the team managed to produce an audio recording of the whole play with each cast member acting their lines in isolation and one of the technical wizards performing some new tricks, patching the whole thing together. Licensing restrictions meant that the play was only available to Henfield Theatre Company members but it raised morale no end.

“Other online activities followed, of course, and like many other groups we became very familiar with each other’s bookshelves and kitchens! We had play readings, talent shows and quizzes and the organising committee held virtual meetings in which the programme of productions was regularly shuffled and put back another three months!

“But now here we are in the final stages of rehearsal for our first live production since lockdown! This isn’t the same play that was planned for last March; sadly, it wasn’t possible to keep all of the cast together for that one.

“What we will be performing is a sparkling and energetic, occasionally ribald, satirical comedy of errors called The Government Inspector.

“This is a modern adaptation of a nineteenth century comedy emanating from Russia. The original play, by Nikolai Gogol, was written in the 1830s and was adapted by David Harrower in 2011. The play is set in a small provincial town where the mayor and his subordinates are awaiting a visit from a government inspector to check up on their activities. There is much anxiety surrounding the arrival of the VIP, and with good reason, but what will he be like? They could scarcely have dreamed what would happen next! It’s a riot from start to finish and a case of mistaken identity exposes the hypocrisy and corruption at the heart of the town in this biting moral satire. The misunderstanding and mayhem are accompanied by jazz suite music from Shostakovich, creating an atmosphere of fun and frolic.”

Martin added: “We have assembled a great cast who are very excited about getting back on stage and entertaining the Henfield audiences with this important offering. Trevor Hodgson, the director, has, after some years of anticipation, had a lot of fun honing this one into shape. While having fun is a major objective here, we will be mindful of the need for caution and for ensuring that the audience members feel comfortable.

“The play will be set in the round, in the main hall, and the audience numbers will not be as high as they would be with the normal seating arrangement. However, those who came to see Brighton Beach Memoirs, which had similar staging, will remember how well it worked and how much closer to the action they were.

“To compensate for the reduced capacity, we have added an extra performance, a Saturday matinee, to our usual play programme. The production is being entered into this year’s Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards event which culminates in an Oscars style awards evening in December.

“Henfield Theatre Company has won awards in several categories in recent years. In fact, in both the 2017 and 2018 events, the company was awarded the Bea Waters Challenge Cup for Best Overall Production.”

The Government Inspector will be staged at The Henfield Hall from Thursday to Saturday, October 14-16. Performances are at 7.45pm each evening with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets £12 online (www.henfieldtheatrecompany.com) or from Stevens Estate Agents, Henfield High Street (01273 492141).