Hertford Dramatic & Operatic Society

Registered charity 271065

Review: The Vicar Of Dibley

Wednesday 14th to Saturday 17th November 2018

Hertford Theatre, Hertford

The Vicar of Dibley was such a successful and iconic 90s British sitcom. The eccentric characters, who react to the arrival of their new female vicar after the changes to ordination of women made by The Church of England, form relationships with their new arrival in a way which created a television series that became one of the highest ratings winners of its time.

Would the stage adaptation be as effective? Could those loveable, irritating and hilarious characters come to life again played by different actors in front of a live, theatre audience?

This was a big ask for HD&OS and they certainly did not disappoint.

Even before the production began, we were instantly transported to Dibley as the excellent and hugely effective set (designed and made by Steve Onyon and team) provided the cosy, village settings we had expected. This, along with organ music, the well-known tv theme tune and a complimentary copy of The Dibley Times, certainly put us in the mood.

Under the expert direction of Linda Dyne, each member of the small cast took on their role as an exact replica of the television series and this was highly successful. Costumes (by Liane Burnett) meant that from the very onset, the cast also looked exactly as we had expected. No detail was left forgotten - even down to the Tellytubbies!

Michael Niles in the role of Cllr David Horton, was suitably haughty and disapproving and his long suffering, down trodden son Hugo, was played equally as effectively by Barny Shergold. Their relationship was captured in an amusingly awkward way with Hugo’s pride in his ‘rather splendid’ ties, as childlike and endearing as we had all hoped.

Hugo’s romance with the church verger, Alice Tinker (Carly McHugh), was comedy gold from start to finish! Carly embraced Alice with eccentricity, mannerisms, and characterisations which replicated late Emma Chambers in the television role almost exactly. Her energy and facial expressions captured Alice’s innocence and charm which had the audience laughing out loud from her first appearance. Her hilarious ‘Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’ speech certainly deserves a mention, along with Alice and Hugo’s first kiss (“Houston, we have kiss-off!”) - the cardboard cut outs which replaced them during the interval, an hilarious touch carried out with comedic unsubtlety!

Audience reviews:

--- "An excellent tribute to a much-loved series with a fine cast putting their own stamp on the familiar roles. At treat to see some wonderful character actors at work."

--- "It was so well cast and the set was wonderful."

--- "Perfectly cast, extremely funny...What a great night out. Thank you HDOS"

--- "A wonderful evening of entertainment, exquisitely performed, expertly directed and extremely thoughtful extra touches that were the cherries on the top."

--- "Fantastic show, brilliantly casting of the characters. Loved it...a great entertaining evening."