The Vicar Of Dibley - The Holy Trinity

Date 26th July 2019
Society Just Good Friends
Venue St Peter's Hall, Carmarthen
Type of Production Comedy
Director Sian Morris
Musical Director John-Paul Davies

Report

Author: Nick Brunger

The Vicar of Dibley is right up there with Dad’s Army, Fawlty Towers and Blackadder. Rarely off our TV screens for long, devoted fans can often recite great chunks of their favourite episodes word-for-word. Tampering with such a precious jewel in the comedy crown as village life in Dibley takes companies into dangerous territory.

Full marks then to Just Good Friends for tackling this their third visit to the parish with such verve.

In “The Holy Trinity” we dip in to the Dibley diaries to celebrate the christening of Hugo and Alice’s daughter with the prospect of love on the horizon for Geraldine, our favourite lady vicar.  However, with a summer heat-wave threatening the village water supplies Dibley faces an uncertain future with the authorities planning to drown the valley to create a new reservoir.  Can the loopy villagers rally round and save their homes?

Twenty-five years after it first hit the screen the original scripts by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer (adapted for the stage by Steve Clark and David Lovesy) are as sharp as ever, but the real test for this company was how did their portrayal match up to the characters we are all so familiar with?

The answer is almost perfectly in Director Sian Morris’s assured production.

Gareth Owen’s shabby farmer Owen Newitt not only looked the part but exactly captured Roger Lloyd-Pack’s original vocal and physical mannerisms to a T.  As Alice Tinker, Georgie Lewis was a shoe-in for the vicar’s ditsy friend.  Close your eyes and the voice was pretty much spot on for Emma Chamber’s award-winning original screen portrayal. Open them and there was the Alice we all recognise – making an excellent foil for Emma Morris’s Geraldine Granger.  

Mike Griffiths made a larger than life Jim Trott while the rest of the rural grotesques made their mark – Chris Potter grinning like mad as Hugo Horton, with Sean Tapp making a very convincing Frank Pickle, and Nikki Warrington always on hand offer something disgusting to eat as Letitia Cropley.

Ian Axton as the parish council chairman David Horton had a tricky part to pay.  As straight-man to the odd-bods around him he took a little time to grow on me but won me over in the end and made the part his own.

Moving on . . . just as much fun as the familiar antics on the main stage was the performance of the Choir of Village Idiots who punctuated every scene with a choral performance of sublime silliness.  Not that there was anything wrong with their singing – the high comedy came from their beautifully choreographed antics and daft costumes which drew enthusiastic applause for every one of their many vocal contributions. Great work by John-Paul Davies as Musical Director not to mention the eye-catching antics of Andrew Fletcher as Cecil the choir master.

If I have a quibble with this show it was over the sound – the baby’s cry that was too quiet and then later too loud, the telephone that didn’t ring and the off-stage scene when Geraldine changed the baby and her pre-recorded voice was used when Emma Morris’s voice was quite strong enough to carry the performance – not to mention her appearance on stage while the recording continued to “talk”. Rare glitches in an otherwise technically accomplished show.