Comedy, argues Laurence Senelick, is the form most indigenous to the Russian stage; so while its great players may still vie to make Hamlet their own, it is the comic figure of Khlestakov in Gogol's Government Inspector (Revizor) who most fully absorbs and enacts the concerns of the times in which the role is recreated. Here, while tracing the history of the role during the nineteenth century, Laurence Senelick is chiefly concerned with its performance by Mikhail Chekhov in Stanislavsky's first post-Revolutionary production at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1921. Stanislavsky's earlier revival in 1908 had placed Khlestakov amidst a ‘community of fools’; now – reflecting the view of Gogol's anti-hero given by Dmitry Merezhkovsky in his influential essay of 1906, ‘Gogol and the Devil’ – Chekhov accomplished the challenging task of embodying a nullity, an ‘empty vessel’, the odd one out in a ‘normal’ society which he manages briefly to plunge into delirium. Laurence Senelick is Distinguished Professor at Tufts University, and has published widely in the fields of Russian theatre, the history of popular entertainments, sex and gender and performance, and theatre iconography. His most recent works include A Historical Dictionary of Russian Theatre (Scarecrow Press, 2007), The Complete Plays of Anton Chekhov as translator and editor (Norton, 2005), and The Changing Room: Sex, Drag, and Theatre (Routledge, 2000).