A little bit of Oxfordshire is currently in Blackpool! Poulton Drama are performing The Vicar Of Dibley at The Grand Theatre until Saturday. Richard Curtis, the original creator of the television series, and Paul Carpenter and Ian Gower, who adapted it for the stage, have refused to take any royalties for the performance, requesting that all profits from this week go to Comic Relief, which was founded by Richard Curtis in 1985.
Poulton Drama, who stage three shows a year at Thornton Little Theatre, have also appeared at The Grand for three out of the past four years. The group, which was formed towards the end of The Great War, has sixty members and actually has one member who has been with them for seventy years. Their years of experience show. Under the direction of Anthony Stone, they gave a polished, professional performance of this quintessentially English comedy which was truly brought to life by everyone concerned. Many of the major events of the series are incorporated into around two hours of fun, hilarity and madness.
The play opens with the parish council meeting and in the first few minutes the audience is reintroduced to all the familiar characters. Chairman of the parish council, David Horton, is played by Ian Rowe. He captures the essence of the pompous, old fashioned councillor excellently. As does Huw Rose who portrays dozy David Horton, even down to the mannerisms and inane grin. Stuart Holden as ‘no, no, no,no, no’ Jim Trott and Geoff Porter as pedantic but lovable Frank Pickle have a uniqueness of their own, whilst still keeping true to the original characters. Gary Houghton plays the part of Owen Newitt and he portrays him so perfectly that if I had closed my eyes, I would have sworn that the late Roger Lloyd-Pack was on the stage.
The peaceful, conservative village of Dibley is initially in turmoil when they discover that their new vicar is a woman. Playing a part that was previously played by such a great as Dawn French must have been daunting but Cathy D’Arcy, as Geraldine Granger, carries this off with aplomb. Dibley wouldn’t be Dibley without Letitia Cropley and her bizzare culinary concoctions, and Cathie Welsh was perfect for the part. And then there’s Alice Tinker. Who could forget scatty, slightly barmy Alice? Lauren Cullen, who has won a NODA award for her portrayal, was perfection, from the giggly, gauche awkwardness, mannerisms and giggles to the accent.
There are so many memorable moments in the show that it is impossible to mention them all in detail, however among my favourites were Hugo and Alice’s first kiss, Owen and Geraldine’s kiss, yes the one with the bit of meat and the lost filling (yuk), Owen’s proposal and, finally, Alice’s ludicrous wedding dress complete with Tellytubby bridesmaids. For an evening of insanity, hilarity and side-splitting laughter, go to The Grand.
The show runs until Saturday 28 June at 7.30pm with a matinee at 2.00pm on Saturday. Tickets cost £13.00, concessions are £11.00.
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