In short: marvellous.
The Studio Theatre Club's production of The Government Inspector, a satirical comedy by Ukranian playwright Nicolai Gogol, is the story of corrupt town officials in a small Russian Village who are sent into a panic when the information that the eponimous government inspector is coming to audit the town, and in fact may already be there and staying in a local inn. In fact, it is Khlestakova, an official from St. Petersburg (though not actually the government inspector) and her servant.
It's a real ensemble piece. The play keeps its original setting with minimal stage decoration, but this is more than made up for by the actors who really bring the play to life. Val Shelly's scheming Mayor (all sweet and gracious on the outside, but showing her true character through her asides) and Elena Wright's Khlestakova (a stroppy, pompous and arogant young woman, who the actor still manages to make likeable) both are outstanding and act as perfect foils for each other. The town officials are all the grusome characters you would expect in a corrupt town (Jamie Crowther's presents a blustering judge, Matt Kirk's an oily and devious charity commissioner, Mike McDonald's a terrified, stammering school inspector, while John Kirchovs and Kath Leighton perform drunken postmistress) and are all a delight to watch, each managing to bring their characters to life without spilling over into characture.
The direction (a continuation of Dan Booth's "Russian Phase" following his production of Checkov's Three Sisters) is marvellous. This production does not suffer from the "Am-Drams" in the slightest with some really nice touches. Swapping the gender of the characters works really well (normally the mayor is played by a male) especially in the hilarious scenes between the preening, arrogant Husband (Stephen Briggs providing some wonderful comic touches) and their foppish Son (an outstandingly vain and gormless Rory Morrison).
The humour in the play is not just in the words, but in the movement aswell. Francesca Richards and Kat Steiner provide some more physical comedy as Bob/Dobchinsyka (please be aware that this play contains sprawling), while John Kirchoff, Viv Myles and Matt Fifield give a large impact over some small bit parts. However, it was Simon Wilson's Osip, the Mutley to Khlestakova's Dick Dastardly, who really manages to capture the spirit of the piece. Clever, manipulative and out for all he can grab, he provides some big laughs, both with his bizarre physicality and outstanding character work.
Is there anything that doesn't work? There is a little roughness that come with all amateur performances, but this is very much at the higher end of amateur theatre. At £10 a ticket it's more than worth it!