The Government Inspector replaces The Philadelphia Story

The Government Inspector editorialSydney’s Belvoir Theatre has announced that an unexpected issue has arisen with the rights to The Philadelphia Story that they were to present as part of their 2014 Season.

It has emerged that Ellen Barry, the wife of playwright Phillip Barry, was actually a co-author. As Philip Barry passed away in 1949 his work is no longer in copyright in Australia, however as Ellen Barry passed away more recently her copyright is still in effect.

Ellen Barry was not publicly credited in published versions of the play. Indeed she spoke about her husband’s work in interviews without mentioning her authorial contribution. You don’t expect this sort of thing to happen but it’s probably not the first time a woman has done half of her husband’s work with no recognition.

Unfortunately the Estate of Ellen Barry has not granted us the rights to The Philadelphia Story so we will be co-producing with Malthouse Theatre, The Government Inspector by Simon Stone after Nikolai Gogol (died 1852, unmarried) in its place.

“I’ve been looking for the opportunity to direct The Government Inspector for a long time, so I’m incredibly excited that we now are able to take this show on with such a talented group of individuals attached,” said Stone.

“It’s such a witty and cutting play, with real relevance to the political circus we see around us, day after day.”

Long before the 2013 Australian senate elections, Nikolai Gogol (Diary of a Madman) invented one of the great comic premises of all time: what happens when a completely ordinary, perhaps even sub-ordinary guy finds himself, more or less by accident, enjoying the full benefits of public power?

In a town somewhere – could be anywhere, really – news comes from the capital that someone seriously serious is coming to report on the state of this and that. Panic! And that indolent nobody Khlestakov finds himself the subject of all the fawning and excess of being somebody.

The Government Inspector is Stone and co’s reworking of Gogol’s piece de resistance. Stone has assembled a brilliant ensemble cast including Emily Barclay, Gareth Davies and Greg Stone, first class comic geniuses all as they cavort through Gogol’s great obstacle course of lunatic hilarity.

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Image: courtesy of Belvoir Theatre