In their final play for the year, The 1812 Theatre have delivered thee episodes of The Vicar of Dibley: ‘Wind and The Weather’, ‘Love And Marriage’ and ‘Winter’ – three different episodes to those presented by The 1812 Theatre in 2013.
The challenge of performing a television script as a play is the inherent number of scene changes. The easy way out would be to go with a minimalist set and forget about trying to create an accurate scene, but true to usual 1812 Theatre form, a well designed and detailed set (by Neil Barnett) immediately established the scene. The backstage crew were kept very busy, efficiently moving props on and off and changing the set, and will no doubt shave a few seconds here and there off the time for each scene transition after a few more performances.
Louise Steel takes on the role of Geraldine Granger and gives a convincing portrayal of the well-loved Vicar of Dibley. Reprising the role for which she won a Lyrebird Award, Trudie Sheppard is delightfully perfect as the ditsy Alice Tinker.
While Allon Dinor doesn’t quite look like his character of Hugo Horton (mostly due to his much shorter hair), he has the mannerisms down pat, which makes his portrayal believable. As Hugo’s father, David Horton, Chris Churchward gives a solid performance.
James McCrae gives a wonderful performance as the stuttering Jim Trott. Aged 87, this is now the fourth time McCrae has portrayed this character and he looks very much at ease in the role. Also reprising his role, in another solid performance, is Fred Barker as Frank Pickle. Rounding out the central cast is Graeme Doyle in the role of Owen Newitt.
Lighting (design by Robin le Blond) worked well.
While the sound of thunder for the opening of ‘Wind and Weather’ was realistic, care needs to be taken to ensure spoken lines can still be heard by the audience over the noise of the thunder. A few lines were also missed when cast didn’t pause for the audience applause, or laughter to die down, before continuing with their next lines.
Christine Hibberd and Jane Ruddick have done a great job with the wardrobe, particularly with Alice’s cardigans and her unique wedding dress.
Director Loretta Bishop has delivered three episodes that are true to the well loved television show and will be appreciated by fans of The Vicar of Dibley. The comedic timing felt a little stilted in the opening episodes, but improved considerably in the final episode. Despite any flaws, there was plenty of laughter from the audience, no doubt due to the writing by Anthony Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer. This was not a perfect performance, but will certainly improve as cast and crew settle into their roles.
Overall, this was an enjoyable evening of theatre and with plenty of laughs to be had, The 1812 Theatre’s Production of The Vicar Of Dibley makes for an entertaining night out in the lead up to Christmas.