The Vicar of Dibley- The Christmas Lunch Incident

Date 2nd December 2021
Society Skegness Musical Theatre Company
Venue Touring various venues
Play Play
Director Andrea Hall
Producer Andrea Hall


Author: Stuart Bull

Presenting such a well-known piece as The Vicar of Dibley by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew Archer presents a director with both a guaranteed success and a set of problems. No doubt the audience will flock to it (as they did to the performance I attended) but they will have expectations that an amateur society may struggle to meet. They want the characterisations, the costumes, the set - to not deviate from what they have seen on their screens, and they know all the best lines before they are delivered. So how does a society make it their own without disappointing the punters?

Well, Skegness Musical Theatre Company succeeded in buckets full. Their members managed to produce good characterisations of the well-known inhabitants of Dibley, and bring something fresh to them as well. But the surprises (for me) were the intermissions provided by the ladies of the Dibley Women’s Institute who covered the scene changes with a selection of entertainments, from Christmas Carols  (sung well) to bell-ringing, which were hilarious and full of individual characterisations. Of particular note were Jean Taylor and Natasha Connor, playing Mrs. Tinker and Mary, who created havoc with Daphne Winterbottom-Smith (played by Andrea Hall) and her carefully arranged pieces.

Each of the principal actors were good in their own right, but special mention must be made of Rebecca Sylvester and Jo Fitzwilliams, playing Geraldine and Alice respectively, who were on stage for most of the scenes (Jo also in the “intermissions”) and carried off their parts impressively well.

The play is touring a selection of venues over several evenings, and so by necessity the set  and props were simple but effective (everything has to be packed away each evening and carried to the next hall in car boots). The lighting and the sound in the performance I saw were well-managed, and the diction was clear though occasionally a little hurried.

Stage management is always difficult in venues which are not purpose-built theatres, and the cast were hampered tonight by the absence of entrances via the wings, all entrances having to be made from the floor, but they coped well in blackout and the audience were hardly aware of it.

Like may societies, Skegness Musical Theatre Group is having to look for alternative outlets for their talents, as they can no longer afford to put on shows at their usual venue, the Embassy Theatre. Judging by tonight’s performance, and the reception afforded by the audience, they have found a suitable vehicle for the present.

Overall an enjoyable evening, with a warm welcome for me from the society , and I won a prize in the raffle which is always a bonus.