It starts with a comma. Or, to be more precise, a comma in the wrong place in some impenetrable document relating to complex but unfathomable goings-on in a backwater province far from the centre of power. A minor functionary is dispatched to put things straight – that is, to move the comma by one place. To the left or right we never find out.

Those in authority get wind that a government bigwig, an inspector, is about to land on them incognito. The minor functionary, the Revisor, is mistaken for the man who matters. Panic and mayhem ensue.

Kidd Pivot’s Revisor. Photo © Michael Slobodian.

Nikolai Gogol’s satire The Government Inspector (Revizor in Russian) was written in 1836 but its themes never grow old. Corruption, misinformation, hidden agendas, paranoia, mistaken assumptions and double-speak are just the beginning.

As with Canadian company Kidd Pivot’s masterpiece Betroffenheit (seen at the Perth and Adelaide festivals in 2017), its Revisor combines Crystal Pite’s movement and Jonathan Young’s text, lip synced by the dancers or heard in voiceover, with an exhilarating, go-for-broke muscularity.

Extreme mental duress gives rise to wildly exaggerated physicality as the local officials tie...