Local theatre doesn’t get much better than this

Married Bliss: Hugo and Alice (played by Simon Temple and Amber Sinclair).
Married Bliss: Hugo and Alice (played by Simon Temple and Amber Sinclair).

St Nicolas Players

The Vicar of Dibley Christmas – The Second Coming

South Holland Centre, Spalding

The biggest compliment I can give St Nicolas Players for this performance is that I’m sure I wouldn’t have laughed more had the original cast been treading the Spalding boards.

Married Bliss: Hugo and Alice (played by Simon Temple and Amber Sinclair).

Married Bliss: Hugo and Alice (played by Simon Temple and Amber Sinclair).

From start to finish this was a comedy masterclass with eight terrific actors perfectly encapsulating the spirit of Richard Curtis’ Dibley.

The play was based on two 1999 episodes of the sitcom, where, firstly, the village is given its own radio station for the week, and then the parish council oraganises and performs a Christmas show.

What ensues is the usual Dibley hilarity, including the always memorable dialogue between Geraldine and Alice, the grubby double entendres from Jim and all the over wonderful characteristics of these legendary comedy characters.

What made this performance really special for me, however, was the way the cast got into character. It’s a skill to act, remember lines and deliver comic timing, but to actually do it so well that you resemble the TV character you are playing is indeed impressive.

In fact, so good were these portrayals that, when going through the show in my mind’s eye, it was the characters made famous by the likes of Dawn French, Emma Chambers and Roger Lloyd-Pack that I pictured.

Amber Sinclair’s facial expressions and speech mirrored Chambers’ portrayal of Alice perfectly, while at times it seemed I was watching Trevor Peacock, so good was Nigel Hancocks’ Jim Trott. He stole the show for me with some absolute comedy gold.

Michael Baron was almost eerily accurate in his interpretation of Owen Newitt, his voice echoing perfectly that of the late, loved Lloyd-Pack.

Alison Honeybun was superby cast as Geraldine and gave a stellar performance. I was delighted when she came back with Amber Sinclair after the curtain calls to share one of the infamous Geraldine to Alice jokes.

Nick Fletcher gave a winning interpretation of David Horton, particularly his locked facial horror expressed when hearing the news his bumbling son Hugo was to have a baby with new wife Alice. And, talking of Hugo, Simon Temple was superb. It takes much more than a foppish wig to get into this character but he managed it with aplomb.

Jed Laxton gave a very affectionate portrayal of Frank Pickles and particularly shone during and after the scene where he “comes out” live on radio... only for no-one to be listening. And parish council meetings just wouldn’t be the same with Mrs Cropley, played superbly by Anne Temple. The scene where she ended up sitting on Jim Trott’s lap and vice-versa was a joy to behold.

There was a lovely little cameo from children Joe and Harry Smith too, although I’m not sure whether the part when Harry left the stage to pick up a stray sweet was scripted!

This truly wonderful performance was directed by Rob Nicholls, produced by Heather Dickinson and stage managed by Arline Evenden.

I must also give mention to set builder Steve Underwood – because that was done superbly too.

Jeremy Ransome – 10/10