REVIEW: Divine stage version of Vicar Of Dibley

A heavenly chorus of laughter is ringing out like church bells from a New Plymouth theatre.

The charming and hilarious Vicar of Dibley has hit the stage, and if the howling belly laughs from Wednesday night’s audience are anything to go by, then this show is a must-see.

Adapted for the stage by local writers Barbara Marshall and Stella McCallum, The Vicar of Dibley is packed with Taranaki talent, and more than a few risqué jokes.

Julie Trigger as The Vicar

Like a gift from the theatre gods, Julie Trigger recently returned to her home town just in time to land the title role of the Vicar.

And as one theatre goer put it, she plays Geraldine Granger “better than the professional”.

To say the resemblance is uncanny would be an understatement, as Trigger has nailed absolutely everything you love about the larger than life television personality.

She has excellent comic timing, a talent for facial expressions and just the right amount of sass to pull off the vivacious, fun-loving Vicar. She is exceptional in this role.

And, there are more than a few stars in this show, with a local cast of twelve handling the hit British sitcom like pros.

Alex McDougall makes a superb and long overdue return to the stage to play the curmudgeonly David Horton, and boy does he deliver.

He uses just the right amount of toffee-nosed arrogance, and flavours it with a stern frown and a healthy dollop of grumpiness just for good measure.

Keegan Pulman, who plays his son, is also excellent, and manages to make the weird, awkward and “boring” Hugo Horton come alive with endless humour.

Everything from his hard-on hiding walk to even the way he holds his mouth, is just brilliant. And when he is onstage with his love Alice Tinker, the pair really play off each other, with their first kiss being one of the best moments of the night.

Katherine Whaley as Alice is exceptionally dim-witted, but lovable despite her many annoying traits. Her “I can’t believe it’s not butter” speech is a hoot, while the whole chocolate fingers scene is so well done the biscuits may get a surge in sales.

Under the direction of Stella McCallum the top-notch acting is the absolute highlight of this production.

The four leads are excellently supported by the superb talents of Glenys Horsfall, John Lawson, Terry Darby, John Collings, Barbara Marshall, Shelley McDougall, Katie Slater and Ella Krutz. Each supporting actor delivers joke after joke and adds to the all round success of this very funny play.

Darby’s portrayal of the stuttering Jim Trott is especially funny, while Horsfall is charming as the eccentric and slightly odd Letitia Cropley.

The costumes also deserve a special mention. Jessica Knight and her team have done a great job of finding a seemingly endless parade of woolen cardigans, golf jerseys, gumboots and quirky ties.

The Vicar of Dibley is a jolly good night out, even for those of us who have only seen an episode or two of the hit BBC show.

It’s packed with laughs, good wholesome entertainment, and more than a couple of naughty jokes.

In fact, all you need is your dog and your slippers, and you would feel like you were snuggled up on the couch watching one of the hit shows of the 90s.

The Vicar of Dibley
New Plymouth Repertory Society
Until May 4
Reviewed by Taryn Utiger