“If you want to ensure good tickets sales then pick a play that is based on a popular television series. In recent years Ely ADS has successfully chosen this route for their spring production, much to the delight of the Ely audiences, and this year’s production of The Vicar Of Dibley did not disappoint and tickets were sold out a few weeks in advance there were people queuing up on the door hoping for returns.
In choosing this route, however, there is always the worry whether the players can reproduce the screen characters they are portraying sufficiently well enough so as not to distract the audience from their enjoyment of the play and I am pleased to say that the actors in Ely ADS’s production not only sounded like their on screen counterparts but, for the most part, looked like them too.
The play opened with two choirboys singing a beautiful rendition of the familiar theme tune, The Lord Is My Shepherd, as the curtains opened to reveal a terrific 3 set stage, designed and built by Mark Parr, who has excelled himself with his facsimiles of the TV sets.
The story is a concatenation of several scenes from throughout the television series, skilfully put together to create a complete and stand alone story, interweaving the arrival in Dibley of the titular Vicar, Geraldine Grainger, played by Samantha Gallop, much to the horror of Parish Chairman, the sexist and arrogant David Horton, played by Graham Stark, and the burgeoning love between intellectual lightweights, Hugo Horton and Alice Tinker, played by Richard Dodd and Lisa Bushell respectively.
The four leads were superb and very ably supported by the rest of the cast, all of whom were nicely relaxed in their roles and as a result everyone created believable characters. The audience were clearly enjoying the performances, laughing at the ludicrous, but oddly believable situations unfolding before them, with a few stand out moments such as Hugo and Alice’s first kiss that straddled the end of act one and the beginning of acts two, although I am sure they took a break during the interval; Steve Tittensor as Jim Trott reading his Best Man’s speech to the Vicar, which opened with ‘No-no-no-no-Knowing You, No-no-no-no-Knowing Me’
Clever also in the detail: the scarf being knitted by Letitia grew visibly longer throughout the play, until she wore it in the last scene.
Credit must go to Susan Harrison, making her Ely ADS directorial debut, for putting together such a strong cast and for producing a hugely entertaining show and, of course, to the cast and crew.”
Peter Crussell 21/02/2015