The company gave yet again a brilliant performance when in the Teatro-Due Bignardi for the first time outside Hungary, artistic director Gábor Zsámbéki’s brand new production of The Government Inspector was shown. We are talking about a shockingly powerful interpretation of Gogol’s masterpiece. (…)This hysterical roughness, this vulgar limitedness results in an exemplary show. It is an example in its tone, in the result of the bitterly effects, in the cautious peculiarity of the style and characters. (…) The actors give a superb performance.
They play The Inspector General by Gogol happily, massively. Director Gábor Zsámbéki offers a dazzling, captivating, overwhelming theatre experience to the audience. It seems that red tape as a phenomenon indeed stretches through centuries, and not only in Russia so. Gogol’s text matches contemporary situations with ease by introducing the fight against the proud, greedy, soulless chinovnikha. The lively, humorous performance requires a great deal of improvisation, reminding us of the lazzis of the Italian folk comedies. The actors use the contemporary set /by Csörsz Khell/ to its fullest potential, they handle objects with impressive virtuosity.
A.Obrazcova, Szovjetszkaja Kultúra
This show is the feast of theatricality, a burlesque in which passionate actors help Gábor Zsámbéki, the passionate director, with ardent devotion. In art, some meetings are deemed for success (obviously the heavens make sure that these co-occur with talent) when all of a sudden somebody finds the key and all the difficulties disappear: the characters are born from the directorial thought itself defining the scene right away, the stage ideas help one another, rhyme, correspond. A kind banter grows grotesque in a flitter of an eye. (…) Katona József Theatre (seceded from the National Theatre in 1982) is young, living, and believes in the way it chose for itself. This is what the repertoire of their current guest play convinces us of. The most important might still be the company’s vast intellectual power. Their performances, the daring, provocative thoughts grip the audience to think together about life.
Gábor Zsámbéki directed a taut show here. He does not save on exaggerations. The characters are powerfully caricature-like, the way they behave with each other is everything but noble reserved. In spite of all this, the roughly three-hour-long production is not merely rough, coarse or attitudinizing. The actors always manage to break even parody itself again and again.
As a critical spectator of The Government Inspector I could make laudative speeches about the change of rhythm, the art of space division and grouping which the director is an absolute master of. What is more important is the emphatic aspect of the content which Gábor Zsámbéki uses with special skill and consistency, especially clearly in the end of the play. The effective the ending is, it grows further than a mere closing pun, it takes the grotesque play with the mechanisms, cheatings and hanging of society to the top.
Hanskarl v. Neubeck, Südvest Presse
The Budapest company brought two shows to the LIFT. The first crowns all expectations as it enters Gogol’s corruption labyrinth by a spectacular, to the point, spotlessly realized performance. (…) But one does not only sense that he or she is part of a great theatrical experience if they see a pearl like this, but feels it from the perfect way every theatricality fits into the comprehensive plan of Gábor Zsámbéki’s outstanding directions… The end of this one of a kind classic performance - which I do not want to reveal- is incredible, shocking and comments on the current political reality daringly.
Claire Armitstead, Financial Times
But what we saw on stage was truly impressive in itself as well. The Government Inspector, Gogol’s nightmare comedy performed by Budapest’s Katona Jozsef Szinhaz, became a European player in six short years and is currently starring at the London International Festival of Theatre. What makes this Hungarian version an exceptional experience is that It does not treat the play, written in 1836, as historic commentary on Nicolas I’s oppressive autocracy, but as a finding about today’s communism from an excavation.
Michael Billington, Arts Guardian
Gábor Zsámbéki’s fantastically witty direction has a comprehensive style that is lighter, dryer, more naturalistic and classically clearer than the way British actors and directors approach this type of play, while imagination overflows throughout the whole performance.
The organizers of this event made an excellent choice when they discovered Katona Jozsef Szinhaz in Budapest and lured it to Geneva for three nights. The performance shows profound originality that is rare nowadays. (…) Director Gábor Zsámbéki started working with impressive dynamism and he reviewed Gogol’s satire with great speed and with beautiful open uninhibition. The result tells about massive viability and strong health in virtually every scene.
Thierry Mertenat, Tribune de Genéve
The actors of Katona Jozsef Szinhaz radiate unique power for comedy and thus they often manage to get us over the language barrier. The stunningly expressive exuberance of the mimes, facial expressions and prosody is constantly in a war with the loss of meaning due to the language problem. A drinking scene put on stge with bright imagination becomes an aerial ballet of glasses of alcohol and of hilarious jumps. What is more, the actors deal with all the extremes of the characters with stunning mastery.
Philippe Clot, Le Matin
Brilliant, impressive, stunning, mastery… the audience mentioned these attributes in connection with Budapest’s Katona Jozsef Szinhaz’s production of the The Government Inspector. It has been a while since we last heard round applause like this. It seems as if Hungarian theatre would never disappoint us and this most of all is due to the brilliant acting.
Katona József Színház gave an outstanding performance in the Anna Julia Rojas. The clear direction by Gábor Zsámbéki showed how important elaborating on every detail is in order to get the play perfectly through to the audience. The Hungarian director has a concept that looks in the present and not in the past. The characters are directed with such mastery that it would be hard to concentrate on the mayor as the main character of the comedy; because of the consistency of thought each actor plays his character to its fullest potential.
What is extraordinary is the way in which the Hungarian give us a lesson on what theatre is. While highlighting all the values in Gogol’s masterpiece, they performed a contemporary version of the play, treating the text with care, without falsificating it or allowing it to be abused by a foolish director.
Manuel Drezner, El Espectador
By the way the Hungarian Katona Jozsef Szinhaz gave the most outstanding performance of the festival. They presented the university lecture equivalent of good theatre by The Government Inspector. Narrow direction, versatile actors, almost simultaneous scenes… The Hungarian company of Katona József gave a real lesson in theatre through Gogol’s Government Inspector.
The fantastic team of Katona Jozsef Szinhaz starring in Gabor Zsambeki’s inspired direction dances the roles rather than acts them out. Their faces are amazingly expressive, as if clay figures come to life and their bodies are so bonelessly flexible, that they are capable to show the characters’ moral distortions merely on a physical level. Each actor is a master of portrayal.
Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times
Invited by Chicago's International Theatre Festival, the illustrious company of Katona Jozsef Szinhaz consists of mature actors who are just as much at ease in comedy as in sardonic drama.
Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune
The Hungarian company did everything to eradicate the Slavic ethos from Gogol and put a kind of idiosyncratically juicy Hungarian humour in its place. And this idiom is well known to all the fans of Ephraim Kishon. This ideology could have ruined the drama, but it did not do so. Just the opposite happened- thanks to the sparklingly imaginative direction and the impressive, symbolically rusty scene this method proved to be workable. (…) But thanks to the rhythm of the clever and complex performance and to the sensational visual effects, the audience reacted with enthusiasm. The catharsis came about- but rather on the aesthetic than on the political level.
Naomi Doudai, The Jerusalem Post
Whoever believes that theatre primarily communicates on the verbal level can easily be convinced of his mistake by the enthusiastic reactions of the audience that does not understand a word from the dialogues.
Jill McGivering, South China Morning Post
These actors -at least the protagonists surely- are able to transmit recognizable human characteristics in spite of the extreme presentation required by the style. What is more, and even more relevative, the people who open up for us are not only going with the flow of this corrupt world, no. In reality these people have created this world, they are responsible for it.
Angela Bennie, SHM
In this not the least pleasant space do the actors play this great comedy with such absurd expressivity that must upset the former communist agencies a great deal. There are two awesome portrayals in the show: the mayor played by Peter Blasko and Hlesztakovja by Janos Ban- both larger than life, bursting with energy.
Peter Ward, The Australian
The Hungarians who made us laugh into tears throughout the performance finished the Government Inspector with threatening music: a new government inspector with respectable serenity, intelligence and reserved elegance turns up suddenly in the general noise. He, who bears no difference with our well-known community, steps into a lift cabin with an unknown origin and acts as if he intended to invite everyone.
Audroné Jablonskiné, Lietuvos Aidas
I felt a great aesthetic, theatrical, artistic – and whatever else you desire – catharsis. This is a performance of remarkable talents – I am going to be restrained -, not a brilliant but a talented one. It is talented in all of its parts, at all of its levels, in all of its “pores” and “terminal filaments”. Staging and acting, organization of the set and embellishment of sport acrobatics, rhythm, counterpoling, the sensation of space and time in philosophical sense, perfection… The Government Inspector is pure, real art, the incarnation of nostalgia for the true theatre. It creates nostalgia, dream and intuition. And for all of us who gathered the day before yesterday, for the premiere of the Government Inspector, the experience of catharsis. This is wonderful and… brilliant, the devil take it ! The alloy of the beginning of Dionysian and Apollonian – as Nietzsche would call it …
Egmontas Jansonas, Respublika
The crowd of enthusiastic spectators filled completely the theatre room at the premiere of the four performance of the Katona József Theatre in Strasbourg. This evening was the great lesson of a respectable theatre. The audience was not disappointed, neither the fame of the ’young’ Hungarian theatre that has become widely known hereabouts for more than a year suffered any damage: twenty actors, in the accurate and euphoric staging of Zsámbéki Gábor, give an intriguing theatrical lesson, while pressing the universal and eternal moral questions of the leadership of politics with the outstanding comedy of Gogol.Dernieres Nouvelles d’Alsace