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“Vicar of Dibley”   

It is always a problem when putting a familiar vehicle from TV onto the stage, as we always expect to see the characters we are used to looking at, but at the same time we don’t want to see an impression of the character, we want to see something close to the original but with a fresh approach.  I think that in the main Griffins achieved this for Vicar of Dibley.


The set was super, I loved the effect of the pulpit, and the sliding on and off of the wall for the cottage scenes – all in all it was well thought out, and very appropriate.  Lighting and sound were also good, so technically the show matched the production and performances.


I liked the use of Luton Youth Cantores as a musical backing for the finale, and also for the singing of the hymn – it all worked well, but I would have liked a little more grouping (not the straight line approach), and a little more projection at times.  Overall though I felt it added to the ambience of the play, although it would have been better if one of the cast, preferably Geraldine, had asked the audience to stand and sing the hymn, as it rather broke the feel of the play to have the conductor do it.


Dee Lovelock gave us the wonderful Geraldine Granger, such a lovely part, and I felt that Dee really got underneath Geraldine’s skin and gave us a fully-rounded character.  We saw her go from non-acceptable, to definitely acceptable with her journey depicted throughout the play.


Alistair Brown played the rather stuffy and strait-laced David Horton – which he played with his usual aplomb.  A very nice moment at the end with Geraldine.


Matt Flitton played David’s rather dull son Hugo, which he did very well.  A difficult part to play when you are naturally very up front and enthusiastic about life, but Matt pulled back nicely, and created a good character, and relationship with Alice and David.


I was a little disappointed with Alice as played by Jennifer McDonald, she didn’t do the quirky, strange and utterly dumb side of the character justice, and I was not happy with her costume – it was too old for the character, making her look like an older lady, she needed to look more girly as the essence of the character always seemed to me to be a really young mind in an older person - but perhaps that was just my view.  It is probably the most difficult part within the play, and Jenny coped well, but just needed a little something extra to really bring the part to life.


I was sorry the wedding scene between Hugo and Alice was cut, as this gives a chance for more humour and although I could see the point of focussing on Geraldine, I did feel something was missing that I expected to see.


Tim Hayden played the rather rude and very up-front Owen very well, he also projected well, which meant we heard every word, which was sometimes lacking with other cast members.  Again, he got the essence of the character without it being a direct copy.

Letitia Cropley, her of the ham and lemon curd sandwiches and pancakes with a hint of liver fame, was nicely played by Nuala Prior, who again projected well, and got us to buy into her character.

Dave Billington was ideally cast as the meek and mild Frank Pickles, minute taker extraordinaire!!  However, I would have liked a little more projection, as he was sometimes too quiet, but again a good portrayal.

The surprise of the night for me was Gary Nash, as the wonderful Jim Trott – this character could not be very different from the original, because of the words (or lack of them) – but I was very impressed by the way Gary played it.


The final piece of the jigsaw was Richard Alexander, who took advantage of Geraldine, and left her with a broken heart.  Loved the pink dressing gown, and it was good to see Richard playing a fairly straight part, which he did well.


The costumes were mostly suitable, I have already mentioned Alice, who I felt was the only person to not be clothed entirely suitably, but everything else worked well.  However, I question the decision to have Geraldine take her bow in her pyjamas, and Simon in the dressing gown.  I would like to have seen them in proper clothes, I am sure they could have done something, even if it involved a quick change.


I liked the finale – with Cantores accompanying the bows, and then everyone being grouped on one side of the stage – it suited the play.


So again, Griffins gave us a good evening’s entertainment, with lots of laughs, and a little pathos – all of which made this a worthwhile production that came up to expectations.



GRIFFIN PLAYERS

VICAR OF DIBLEY” review date: 13th Sept 2013

LUTON LIBRARY THEATRE, LUTON

Director:  John O’Leary

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