The original BBC series of The Vicar of Dibley written by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer ran from 1994 to 2020 with twenty episodes. Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter have produced a script from memorable parts of those originals that gives all the characters the chance to shine while stringing together a play that loses nothing in comedic value. For people such as myself who were enthralled with this comedy it is not possible to see this live production without making comparisons.
The Director Robert Andrews has captured the essence of the play from the opening scene in the Parish hall which quickly introduces all the leading role players who mirror the original characters. The casting is excellent and is a feature of this production.
Geraldine Granger was portrayed by Lesley Main as the effervescent Vicar. Her interaction with all the players gave the continuity to keep the hilarity to the fore. In particular the proposal scene with the polished performance of John Hudson as Owen Newitt with the piece of pork and the tooth filling had the audience in maximum laughter mode.
Tom Moore played the role of the strait laced self opiniated David Horton who endeavoured to control meetings and his son’s love life but could not get the better of Geraldine.
Tim Cousins as Jim Trott and Damon Hill as Frank Pickle looked like they had come directly out of the BBC original production. To be able to emulate the characters as they did highlights their formidable acting expertise and experience that they have. Cathie Oldfield as Letitia Cropley rounded out the parish committee and her presentation of her recipes gave the audience even more reason to laugh.
As if there was not already enough laughter we were faced with Adrian Heness as Hugo Horton and Katie Packer as Alice Tinker playing the consummate love-struck couple. They bounce off each other with whimsical performances and added another direction to the play. There were so many moments in the play that caused the audience to fall in love with Alice.
As we have come to expect from Tea Tree Players the set design by Robert Andrews was ideal, being split into two readily identifiable areas. The lighting and sound by Mike Phillips added to the production. The costumes by Jo Allenby & The Monday Club and Barry Hill were ideal, especially Alice’s wedding gown.
This performance really mirrored the original and should not be missed.