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Posted by portugalpress on July 03, 2018

We felt we were part of the village of Dibley

Those of us who know and love the television comedy “The Vicar of Dibley” might have had some reservations about a stage play with the same loved characters. Well, those of you who missed it, missed it! This was something unexpectedly wonderful!

Who would have thought that here in the Algarve we would meet such carefully studied representations of those beloved folk? Thank you, The Algarveans Experimental Theatre, the casting was excellent. I felt that I was at home watching an episode on the television!

From the moment I walked into the Lagoa Auditorium and saw the little table with the candle and the two chairs set in front of the curtain, I became excited - we will have an epilogue scene!

The house lights went down – a bit sudden on this occasion – the Western Algarve Community Choir started to sing, and beautiful it was with lovely harmonies and choice hymns throughout, covering the many scene changes.

The curtains opened revealing the two main sets – the Parish Hall and the sitting room of the Vicarage, both perfectly recreated from the TV series.

The first scene in the Parish Hall introduced us to the main characters and set the plot – David Horton informing the members of the Parish Council about the imminent arrival of the new Vicar. The scene was played with firmness, confidence and great energy and the audience relaxed, laughed in the right places and knew they were in for a good night. We felt we were part of the village of Dibley!

The writers, Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter, have selected some of the best loved moments from the TV series and linked them together to make a wonderful comedic evening. The shocked reactions at the arrival of the new Vicar, Geraldine, because she was a woman, the ‘no no no, yes’ of Jim Trott, the imbecilic Frank Pickle, the awful snacks provided by Letitia Cropley, the outrageous kiss between Owen and Geraldine, the unfurling romance between Alice and David Harton’s son, Hugo, leading to their fairy tale wedding and the hilarious epilogue scene, all classic moments from the series.

Melanie Winstanley’s direction ensured that each and every member of the cast gave wonderful portrayals of the characters and, despite a couple of moments when the energy flagged - may they be forgiven – this was a most impressive and well performed piece and only a shame it was on for three performances only (June 28, 29 and 30).

I am sure my brother Roger Lloyd Pack, who created the character Owen Newitt, would have been delighted by this performance. He loved “The Vicar of Dibley” and had a lot of fun playing this character!

No no no no … yes!

It was a great opening night at Lagoa Auditorium for “The Vicar of Dibley”.

All the actors were cast extremely well which, if you were familiar with the original TV show, brought you right back in to the parish hall of Dibley. Lead character Geraldine Granger was beautifully portrayed by a new member of the theatre group, Angela Theobold - she needed to gain a few kilos visually but, if you closed your eyes, Dawn French was with you in the theatre!

Of especial note was Gillian Clark cast in the role of verger Alice Tinker, played originally by the late Emma Chambers. Another newcomer, Gillian played the role brilliantly; we were amazed to learn that she is Scottish by birth as there was absolutely no hint of her broad Scottish accent. Full credit to professional voice coach and play prompt, Tracey Christiansen; not only did she work with Gillian to perfect her accent and diction but also with American actor Jim Landis, who played David Horton, and Portuguese native Rui Louzeiro cast as his love-struck son, Hugo Horton.

Great timing by the cast ensured the audience enjoyed the many moments of comedy not least through the characters of Letitia (Jan Shepheard), Jim (David Butler-Cole), Owen (Chris Winstanley) and Frank (Ian Carfrae), especially in the second half of the show.

The scene changes - and there were many! - were smooth and aided by a super choir who also joined the cast on stage for the final scene, enhancing the wedding atmosphere and leading the rousing, closing song involving all the actors.
A fantastic first night! Well done to the director, all the actors and, of course, the members of the backstage team.



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