REVIEW: Vicar of Dibley on stage at King’s Lynn

KLODS Vicar of Dibley Dress Rehearsal King's Lynn'LtoR, Sandra  Cartwright, Steven Bond, Grace Burton, John Giller, Elaine Johnson, John West, Brendon Sheppard, Tony Downing ANL-150610-161928009
KLODS Vicar of Dibley Dress Rehearsal King's Lynn'LtoR, Sandra Cartwright, Steven Bond, Grace Burton, John Giller, Elaine Johnson, John West, Brendon Sheppard, Tony Downing ANL-150610-161928009
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The Vicar of Dibley, King’s Lynn Operatic and Dramatic Society, Lynn Arts Centre

Theatre-goers to the first night of the latest KLODS production at the Guildhall were transported back in time some 20 years as they relieved some of the highlights of the popular BBC TV sit-com The Vicar of Dibley.

All of the much-loved characters were there – and remarkably just as we remembered them.

Lady vicar and choco-holic Geraldine was played by Elaine Johnson (looking not dissimilar to Dawn French) and her foil, parish council chair and self-proclaimed lord of the manor David Horton was John Giller. Hugo, his son (either gormless or sweet depending on your point of view) was played by Steve Bond and the love of his life Alice (definitely gormless) Grace Burton. John West was farmer Owen Newitt, Sandra Cartwright was madcap baker Letitia Cropley (a sort of anti-Breat British Bake Off contestant who thinks any dish however sweet can be improved with anchovies or liver), Brendan Sheppard was the super-pedant Frank Pickle while no, no, no, no, no,no ... yes, it was Tony Downing as Jim Trott.

All were excellent but if plaudits have to be given out then Grace Burton’s Alice was absolutely spot-on while John West was positively uncanny in his portrayal of Owen, as originally performed by Roger Lloyd-Pack.

They certainly got some of the biggest laughs of the night.

Well done also to Ms Johnson in the pivotal role of Geraldine, who has to drive on the story. She isn’t exactly a straightwoman but she is positively sane compared to the village idiots around her!

Although the play is relatively new (first performed in Hertfordshire in 2011) this was firmly based on well-remembered parts of the original series, broadcast between 1994 and 1998.

We were certainly back in the 90s. no mobiles or internet here, the village still has a video club and Felicity Kendall is a sex symbol. I thought the play by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter, done as a sit-com in 22 short scenes (almost sketches really) without the benefit TV enjoys of of edits cutting out longeurs between them, made it a little difficult for the actors to get the audience caught up in the story. But a highly enjoyable night.

The Vicar of Dibley is on tonight and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday), tickets £10. Pray go, and enjoy yourself.

Mark Leslie