Gogol started writing The Government Inspector in 1834, and less than two years later the comedy was the greatest theatrical event of the season. It was first performed in the presence of the Tsar Nicholas I on March 19th 1836. The entire play is based on mistaken identity and on the panic caused - for good reasons - among the officials. The actual theme is supposed to have been suggested by Pushkin and in its time it was considered a daring piece of work. The play is set in the early 1800s in a small Russian town where there is corruption among officials. The mayor receives a message that there is to be a visit by a government inspector who will be travelling incognito. The officials are anxious to get the town straightened out and act in a very sycophantic fashion to impress a man they believe to be the inspector. The work portrays harshly the deep corruption of powers in Tsarist Russia, the failings of human greed and the stupidity of the gullible.