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The Vicar of Dibley
Taieri Dramatic Society
Mosgiel Coronation Hall
Wednesday, August 21
REVIEWED BY MIKE CROWL
Due to its immense popularity as a television show, The Vicar of Dibley comes with an audience ready from the outset to enjoy the stage version, and the audience for Wednesday night's preview was no exception.
Co-directors Gloria Reid and Geoff Smith have done an admirable job, and the cast is uniformly good, reproducing the mannerisms, the intonations and the delivery of the lines in close imitation of the original actors.
Anne-Marie Amende, in her second outing as the irrepressibly daft Alice Tinker, was the highlight, never missing a beat.
Matt Brennan played the equally inane Hugo Horton, and the couple raise the bar continually, giving the show an extra lift on each appearance.
Alison Ayers does an admirable job as the Vicar, sometimes acting as feed for the inanities and wild wit of her flock, sometimes attempting to drag them back to some kind of sane place, and sometimes having her own barmy moments.
She has the enormous task of holding the show together, and does it with huge energy.
Keith Richardson as the stuttering Jim Trott and Peter Whigham as Owen Newitt are spot on in their characters, making the most of every scene.
Campbell Thomas (David Horton) and Doug Leggett (Frank Pickle) round out the main cast, with Peter Storer making an appearance as the younger, handsome Horton who sweeps Geraldine off her feet.
Gloria Harris bursts into the wedding scene in a crazed cameo, and Brian McCormick plays the world's strangest organist.
The excellent, mostly permanent set gives the actors plenty of room to work in, and the technical crew's work is faultless.
However, the intervals between scenes - whether required for costume or scenery changes - undercut the momentum.
A few video scenes, taking the cast out on location, as it were, overcame some of these pauses.
The play opened on Thursday night.