Sunday, 16 June 2019

AMATEUR THEATRE REVIEW: The Vicar Of Dibley - St. Herbert's Parish Centre, Chadderton. Oldham.

A national comedic institution and gem of British TV, 'The Vicar Of Dibley' is an excellent piece of theatre to indulge on, especially in an intimate theatre such as St Herbert’s in Chadderton. The only catch to halt your enjoyment, however, could be that the cast portraying the character parts do not live up to those iconised in the BBC sitcom but, bar a few tweaks, S.H.A.D.E.S do a brilliant job, with Kelly Parker at the helm as vicar Geraldine Granger, made famous by the national treasure that is Dawn French. Parker’s delivery, timing and overall demeanour is perfect for the role, dealing with a mix of personalities that the characters offer.

The set is to be admired and much commended, designed by Billy Holt and Seymour Francis, under the direction of Carole Griffiths, split between three locations used prominently in the TV show: the parish hall committee room, Geraldine’s living room and sitting room of parish council chairman David Horton (Tony Cenci) - who’s portrayal was less the serious and straight-laced man on the small screen, but more matched his excellent leading man of Mr Toad from their last production of The Wind In The Willows the pantomime.

Complete with the ‘theme song’ and hymn ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd’, which would have been less monotonous had it been carefully faded rather than bluntly cut off at the start of each scene (admittedly the fader option was used occasionally), it is evident that the team thought carefully about the overall feel of the show, particularly with attention to the wardrobe and costumes emulated the formidable series meticulously. With parish secretary Frank Pickle (Andrew Kirk) and his outing from the closet; Nathan Simpson’s role as parish chair’s son Hugo; Martin Taylor playing vulgar and dirt farmer Owen Newitt; and village simple ‘blonde’ and vicar’s verger Alice, all thoroughly well-executed, along with Jim Pickle (Nick Lowe) whose much-admired stammer was included only in another cast member’s reading of a speech he had written for Alice and Hugo’s ‘wedding’, starring two of the Teletubbies, of course(!). David’s brother Simon Horton also makes an appearance, much to the delight of Geraldine.

With a collective title of ‘Love and Marriage’, the show and evening is split into three parts, depicting the episodes of ‘The Engagement’, Dibley Live (radio show)’ and ‘Love and Marriage’, the final of which was the most random, to say the least, with extra characters that didn’t make sense and tried to build up their part (and teletubbies).

A great night (or week) out, we look forward to their next production, Aladdin, in December.

Reviewer - John Kristof
on - 11/6/19

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