WYONG DRAMA GROUP BRINGS ‘THE VICAR OF DIBLEY’ TO THE ART HOUSE

THE VICAR OF DIBLEY has been brought to the stage at The Art House, by two young talented directors – Alexandra Travers and Maddy Parker. While closely following the original script for the television series by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew, this stage adaptation by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter, deftly breathe new life into some of our favourite characters from the show.

Jillian Logan playing the leading role of Geraldine Granger is terrific and even recreates the small nuances that Dawn French brought to the role. Her comedic timing is perfection and she displays genuine warmth towards the other characters as the new female vicar in town.

David Horton as  Greg Buist gives a good performance but is perhaps a little flat at times in his portrayal of such a dynamic, nasty character. To be fair, this is not an easy part to recreate.

Scott Russell as Hugo Horton and Gabrielle Brooks playing Alice Tinker are charming and well-matched as the goofy, clueless couple. Russell plays the wonderfully inept Hugo flawlessly with great flair, while Brooks is appropriately ditzy and stupid as Alice without being over the top.

The supporting cast are also strong, Frank Pickle as Hagen Heinrich, Jim Trott as Laszlo Weidlich, Owen Newitt as Justin O’Connor and Letitia Cropley as Donna Brook. In particular, Weidlich who plays my favourite character from the show with tremendous aplomb – how could you forget “no, no, no” – while at the same time displaying his adorable gawkishness.

Special mention too goes to Justin O’Connor who is magnificent as the simple Owen Newitt, especially with some of his one-liners when he is trying his best to court and flatter Geraldine with colourful sexual overtones.

The two directors have given us a clear sense of the tight community in the small English village of Dibley. They have taken this much-loved television show and created a joyful, and at times, hilarious, stage replica. As the characters are more than likely very familiar to most in the audience, this was quite a tricky task, which they achieved well.

I found it refreshing to return to a time in the ’90s when people mostly communicated in person before the advances of the internet and social media.

The set design was attractive and vivid, while limited to featuring Geraldine’s lounge room at the vicarage, and also the Parish Hall. The uplifting music and lighting was used cleverly to define the scene changes in a smooth fashion. In addition, there were many costume changes for the ensemble and they were handled easily.

It would certainly be a worthwhile trip north to Wyong, located in the Central Coast, to see this entertaining production. The Art House is a modern theatre, which opened recently in May 2016. It has 500 seats, an exhibition foyer, there is a bar with beverages and snacks and free parking is available.

THE VICAR OF DIBLEY is playing the Art House, 19-21 Margaret Street, Wyong until 25th March. For more information and bookings: www.thearthousewyong.com.au. or Phone: 02 4335 1485.

Featured image – Gabby Brooks as Alice and Scott Russell playing Hugo in the Wtong Drama Group’s production of The Vicar Of Dibley.

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