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Boundary Players - The Vicar of Dibley

4th to 7th May 2016.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Boundary's carry on up the vicarage

Boundary Players: The Vicar of Dibley, at William Penney Theatre, Aldermaston, from Wednesday, May 4, to Saturday, May 7

BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley hit television screens on November 10, 1994, seven months after Angela Berners-Wilson, chosen because the bishop decided to work in alphabetical order, was ordained as the very first woman priest in the Church of England.

Although there was much resistance in the Church, from women as well as men, the hugely successful comedy probably helped some people come to terms with 'change'.

Adapted from the original television series by Richard Curtis, this production was written by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter. The stage play includes many memorable scenes from the sitcom and has been fashioned into a very funny theatrical experience.

It begins with Geraldine being introduced as the new vicar. 'No she's not,' says Owen, 'she's a woman'. Geraldine responds with: 'Ah, you noticed' and, pointing to her breasts, adds: 'They're a dead giveaway these aren't they?' It was a good idea of the writers to make comedy out of what at the time was a delicate situation for many people. Looking back now, we might well wonder what all the fuss was about, but comedy is always a good tonic for making light of serious issues.

This Boundary production was well staged and extremely well-acted. A split set showed the village hall on one side and the vicarage sitting room on the other. Sam Walker, as the new vicar, had just the right amount of comic timing, sympathetic character development and confidence in her new role, to sustain the part ideally.

Maryann Medrum gave a fine comic performance as the rather scatty Alice and Alan Munday played up the repetitive Jim and his 'no, no, no, no, no' for all it was worth. Perhaps even a bit more than it was worth at times.

Mike Huxtable, Alex Hobbs, Richard Mier and Marguerite Luxford all gave well-observed comic characterisations and Clive Lewington did well in the less sympathetic role of the stuffy David Horton.

Four little children, Bethany Fell-Lee, Sophie, Jamie and Hannah Davies all had very small parts in Act 1 and received thunderous applause at the end. Direction was smooth and well-paced by Pat Archer.