Presented by: Noarlunga Theatre Company
Reviewed: 19 July 2019
On the back of last year’s highly successful production of The Vicar of Dibley, Noarlunga Theatre Company have elected to bring us the sequel, Vicar of Dibley – The Second Coming. Director Linda Lawson has secured the original cast from the 2018 production; thankfully so, as it is the cast members’ skill at mimicking the characters from the TV show that is the major strength of this production.
Deirdre Quinn reprises chocolate addict Geraldine Granger. She physically resembles Dawn French and is mostly convincing in the role, with dry delivery of her carefully crafted lines. Helen Lane is fabulous as the not so bright Alice Horton. Her accent is spot on and she captures perfectly the childlike quality required. Stephen Popowski is great as David Horton and plays the part with a good amount of pompousness. His simple son Hugo is nicely played by Jeff Penter. Tim Cousins is hysterical as Jim Trott with his “No, no, no, no, yes” retorts. His audition as one of the Nativity Kings, Billie Jean, is incredibly funny. George Kemp, blossoms as the pernickety committee secretary, Frank Pickle and John Martin’s portrayal of outspoken farmer Owen Newitt, is delightfully entertaining, especially as another of the Kings, Elvis. Rounding out the main cast is Barbara Henshaw who fully inhabits the role of Letitita Cropley, complete with knitting and incessant chatter as we enter scene changes.
This production is not without its challenges. The two acts are somewhat disparate with little linking the two. The play is really 25 separate comic vignettes, some very short indeed, which mostly alternate between the two key locations. It’s like watching a tennis match! Keeping the set primarily static, with half the stage as the Parish Hall and half as the Vicar’s sitting room, well supported by Lachlan Sheedan’s lighting plan, minimises physical set changes. However, the need for the cast to squeeze in and out of the crowded Parish Hall door with annoying frequency, particularly in the somewhat disjointed first act, seriously delays the proceedings. Perhaps blackout alone would have been preferable to permit on stage movement of cast between sets. Alternatively, I’m sure a couple of the shorter scenes could have been sacrificed or merged for the benefit of keeping momentum, given the space restrictions of the venue.
Nevertheless, this is great fun. Anyone who loved the TV series will love this production as was evidenced by the opening night audience laughing loudly and continuously. It might not be the real Vicar of Dibley, but it’s the next best thing; well-acted, well-characterised and very entertaining.
Reviewed by Trish Francis
Venue: Arts Centre Noarlunga
Season: 19th – 28th July 2019
Duration: 150 Minutes with interval