DIBLEY descended on Penarth for four nights last week when Friends of Walk With Alfie, part of the TREE OF HOPE Charity, performed episodes from the much loved Vicar Of Dibley television series.
The staging of the comedy at All Saints Church Hall rather than the nearby Paget Rooms quickly established the audience as very much part of the proceedings, no more so than when they became part of the congregation at St Barnabus at the end of the 1st episode Arrival. The intimate nature of the venue also meant audiences of 100+ on each of the 4 nights of the run truly filled the venue with laughter.
Throughout it was apparent that these were a group of friends in the true sense really enjoying portraying well known and much loved characters from the TV series which resonated with fans of the show from the outset.
The innovative staging saw one side of the main stage transformed in to The Vicarage, the other to David Horton’s living room at his grand mansion house, together with the use of stage extensions to produce the Village Hall, venue for the wonderful ‘round the table’ Parish Council meetings and the intimacy of the Vestry for the Vicar’s ‘head to head’ humour with the hapless Alice, beautifully played by Tiffany Barker.
The adaptable nature of this staging was further emphasised with the opening sad demise of the Reverend Pottle, a brilliant cameo played by Don Shirley to the tenderly poignant and tearful death bed scene wonderfully played by Judith Cunningham as Leticia and, of course, Fiona Porter-Smith as the Vicar in the 2nd episode Easter Bunny.
The 3rd and final episode, Engagement, saw the wonderfully naive Hugo, played by Darren Edwards, finally stand up to his bullying father David Horton, magnificently portrayed by Graham Perkins and, with the Vicar’s help, finally assert his love for Alice The literal brilliance of his ‘bon pantalons’ will live in the memory of cast and Audience alike for many years I am sure.
Keith Ingram as Frank, the ‘pedantic old f*rt’ and Peter Owen as Jim, the dithering technophobe, were a comedy duo sent from above, the ‘Show You The Ropes’ scene still has me smiling as I write. The 3rd member of the trio, stalwart members of the Parish Council, was the rough and ready farmer Owen, nicely played by Nick Pratt in homage to the late, and much missed, Roger Lloyd Pack.
The sensitively light touch of Pat Shirley in directing this trip down memory lane ensured due deference was paid to the wonderful scripts by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer and, together with the wonderfully sympathetic portrayals by all members of the cast, ensured the memories of this National Treasure were only enhanced by all who saw it
Early indications are that the staging raised in excess of £3500 for the Walk With Alfie Fundraising initiative.
Review prepared by SARNICK