The Vicar of Dibley

30 January 2024

The Vicar of Dibley

There’s a new vicar and a big wedding coming to Dibley! The St Peter Players are bringing this much loved comedy to the stage. A two act production including all your favourite characters from the hit TV show. Relive the moment of Geraldine Granger’s arrival as Dibley’s first women Vicar and her first encounter with its insane residents.

View our photo gallery of this production.

Review by Noda

“I just wanted to say how much we enjoyed the Vicar of Dibley on Friday evening ! Such talent out there – thank you for all your hard work providing us with this enjoyment!

“A huge shoutout to this amazing cast and crew for their outstanding performance again tonight! You were all phenomenal and brought The Vicar of Dibley to life, congrats to all involved!”

“Awesome show!! Everyone was so perfectly cast. It was hilarious, and brilliantly entertaining! This was my first time seeing the St Peter Players. I’ll now be watching out for their future productions. Thanks for a great night, all! And ….. break a leg for tonight, and tomorrow.!

About the show

The Vicar of Dibley was created by Richard Curtis and written for its lead actress, Dawn French, It aired from 1994 to 2007. It is set in a fictional small Oxfordshire village called Dibley, which is assigned a female vicar following the 1992 changes in the Church of England that permitted the ordination of women.

In ratings terms, the programme is among the most successful in the digital era, with the various Christmas and New Year specials in 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 all entering the top 10 programmes of the year. The Vicar of Dibley received multiple British Comedy Awards, two International Emmys, and was a multiple British Academy Television Awards nominee. In 2004, it came third in Britain’s Best Sitcom.

Review by Noda

Society: St Peter Players
Production: Vicar of Dibley
Date: 31st May 2024
Report By: Judith Watsham

Thank you for inviting me to report on your latest production and for your warm welcome and hospitality.  Thank you, too, Tina for finding time to chat to me about the show – I always appreciate the opportunity to talk to directors!

The problem almost always with TV spin-off plays is that the audience is so familiar with all the characters that the actors are almost forced into mimicry.  St Peter Players managed to strike a balance between this and allowing each characters to add their own little touches – so congratulations to Director Tina Barclay, her assistant Ruth Corner, and all the crew and cast for striking just the right balance.  None of the cast were carbon copies and, whilst retaining some essential mannerisms, you all made the parts your own.

I had not seen this version of The Vicar of Dibley before as it was a one-off special originally written for Tring Festival Company and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Please forgive the brevity of this report but I have been quite ill recently and am only just starting to get anywhere near the top of my game!  This version has fewer of the well-known ‘intervals’ in the vestry for Geraldine to subject Alice to some very bad jokes which, for me, was an improvement!

Tina’s set design worked well.  It is very hard to cope with so many scene changes given the limited space you had as slickly and effectively as you managed, so all credit to SM Annie Hagger and her crew, Amelia Savage and Finn Toomey.  I timed some of the many changes between the Village Hall and the Vicarage and you got it down to between 30 and 45 seconds, which is excellent.  Rather you than me manhandling the very large sofa!  I thought the preset church aisle was effective and it enabled the audience to really enjoy the penultimate scene – the Wedding – with its attendant Teletubbies (aka the Stage Crew). 

Janeta Kling and Joan Carr did their usual excellent job on the props front.  A lot of trays of tea and coffee!  However, I did wonder why the altar candlesticks in the wedding scene were rather dull and devoid of candles?  Possibly, as the altar was necessarily very small to fit the space, placing only the cross would have worked more effectively?

I am sure that a lot of thought went into the costumes, Liz Peskin and Ruth Corner, with over a dozen time changes with the accompanying need to change some, if not all, of each actor’s appearance.  Plus, of course, the need to adhere to the many comments in the script regarding the number and variety of Hugo’s ties!  On top of this, of course, many of the cast had to be able to change outfits in little more than the time required to move the set.  You got it just right and I can’t congratulate all involved enough.

Les Brewer’s lighting was always spot on – with the various areas lit accurately.  The few projections used worked well too.

Andrew Barker on sound provided all that was needed, including assorted bells and choral singing.

Jason Congerton’s programme was clear and well designed.  Do enter it for next year’s programme awards won’t you?  In future programmes you might like to consider adding details of any NODA Awards you have won in the past.

Now, to the cast – in the order listed in the programme:

Jenny Evans made a good Geraldine Granger and you worked out some effective pauses as your character thinks how best to word some difficult comment or advice.  You brought the vicar to life very well.

Lucy Shirley played Alice Tinker and your shrugs, simpers and stares of incomprehension – followed by a dawning of (mis) understanding – were cleverly thought out.

Nick Lansdowne was a delight as the rather inept and shy Hugo Horton – finally giving us a determined, whilst terrified, vision of a worm turning as you, for the first time in your life, stood up to father David. 

David Horton was well portrayed by Peter Heaps, I loved the impatiently twitching legs under the table at the weekly meetings which added greatly to your characterisation.

Rick Warren played ‘Yes, Yes, Yes, no,’ Jim Trott, very well – again taking on this particular well-known aspect of this character and adding his own take.

Alvin Cohen resembled the actor who plays Frank Pickle on TV which was a good starting point!  You developed an excellent, necessarily boring and bumbling, persona which worked very well.

Jason Congerton was a revelation as uncouth farmer Owen Newitt.  Your clumsy wooing of the Vicar was hilarious, and you put over what to me is the most essential part of this character – his total lack of a sense of humour, or indeed, what makes anything remotely funny, to the manner born!  Not your usual persona as I am aware.

What can I say about Liz Peskin’s Letitia Cropley.  How you could keep a straight face when listing the ingredients in your various culinary masterpieces I just don’t know.  Liz you are an excellent character actor and this role gave you the opportunity to invent someone new for the delight of the audience.

Ruth Corner’s ‘woman interrupting the wrong wedding’ was nicely timed.

Finally, three young girls, Siya, Amelie and Isaabella, added a new dimension to one one of the scenes in the vicarage before starring at the wedding as delightful flower girls (who, let’s face it, usually steal the scenes at weddings anyway!)

Again, thank you for a most entertaining evening.

Judith Watsham

District 11 and 11A Rep NODA London