The Vicar of Dibley

Date 18th October 2014
Society Charlemont Dramatic Society
Venue Pennyhill School West Bromwich
Type of Production Play
Director Sylvia Hill

Report

Author: Michael Hastilow

The CADS chose, for their latest venture, a stage version of the well-loved TV Series, The Vicar of Dibley, scripted by the original writers Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer . An interesting challenge as the script is not in the format one would normally receive for a play, it is more a matter of Pick and Mix from a series of sketches  featuring many of the episodes familiar to Dibley audiences. The royalties too were unusual as they were to be payable to Comic Relief. An arrangement in which everyone benefits, the players for the wonderfully humorous lines, the audience for an entertaining evening whilst making a contribution to a very worthwhile cause.

Sylvia Hill successfully directed the production, her first obstacle being to decide which episodes to include, sensibly she and the society chose a chronology starting with the Arrival, Songs of Praise, The Engagement finishing with Love and Marriage.

Rehearsals were intense, not helped by the need to find a replacement Simon Horton with only two weeks notice, however, the audience were blissfully unaware of these dramas as they moved from one sketch to another to be transported back to the series watched on their televisions. The cast captured the idiosyncrasies of the original with their tonal inflections and  general appearance . Close your eyes and you might well have been hearing the original voices.

Stephanie Agger took on the role of Geraldine, a role in which she seemed most natural, a distinguished David Horton was skilfully portrayed by David Hill, with Abbie Jevons a believably scatter-brained Alice Tinker. Hugo Horton, complete with tie changes, saw Barry Styles in action, with Ian Butler, Mac Wills, Anthony Hyde, and Joan McDonald meeting the challenges set by the regular Dibley parishioners Jim Trott, Frank Pickle, Owen Newitt and Mrs Cropley.  The players were well supported by cameo appearances from other members playing Dibley Parishioners in the Vicar’s first Service, Auditions to form a new Church choir, the Radio Dibley Broadcast in which John O’Neill appeared as Tristan and Love and Marriage in which Dane Gregory appeared as Simon Horton, all giving  seemingly seamless performances .

The set was well devised with clever lighting, good costuming and properties, it served as The Hortons Residence, The Vestry, The Vicarage and the Church although for the latter the entire hall, including the audience, became a part. A sliding panel revealing a most impressive East Window.

In conclusion, a highly entertaining evening, very much a reminder of the much loved TV Series and, judging by the script, the possibility of more to come.