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Players put on a comedy treat for packed Spalding audience

St Nicolas Players' Vicar of Dibley
St Nicolas Players' Vicar of Dibley

THE VICAR OF DIBLEY – THE FINAL CHAPTER... AND VERSE... By St Nicolas Players...South Holland Centre, Spalding... Thursday, October 19, 2017

Whenever I tell my mum I’m off to see a production at the South Holland Centre, she nods politely, says a few cursory words and then tells me about the next thing she is going to see in the West End.

Amber Sinclair must have studied Dibley episodes for hours and hours in order to mirror Alice Horton’s facial expressions so perfectly

Now, I love my mum, and I love the West End, but you don’t have to save up your pennies and visit the city for top notch theatre entertainment... you can get it here in South Holland.

Whether it’s the youngsters from Act II or the fine amateurs from Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (SADOS) or, in this case, St Nicolas Players, there’s some really good, value, entertainment locally.

And when the Players are on form, they really are top notch.

I reviewed the Dibley Christmas production three years ago but couldn’t remember an awful lot about it, apart from the fact the St Nicolas actors got the characterisation spot on.

They nailed that aspect of the production again. I expect a decent performance when I attend a show like this – after all, they are charging £12-a-ticket – but the likeness to the original Dibley characters from Richard Curtis’ much-loved TV series was just uncanny.

Nigel Hancocks was again superb as old oddball Jim Trott – the voice, the mannerisms, the posture, the face. A fantastic performance.

Likewise Michael Barron with his portayal of the late Roger Lloyd-Pack’s Owen Newitt. His monotone vocal delivery and perverted yet somehow likeable personality came over a treat.

And Amber Sinclair must have studied Dibley episodes for hours and hours in order to mirror Alice Horton’s facial expressions so perfectly.The way she walked, the way she talked... everything about her echoed Emma Chambers’ original portrayal.

Now Alison Honeybun won’t mind me saying she’s quite a few pounds lighter than Dawn French’s wonderful comedy creation of the vicar, Geraldine Granger, but this isn’t Castaway and I wouldn’t expect her to go on a Big Mac diet for an amateur production – she was still superb, however.

The way she captured the way the vicar mimes to herself when Alice or one of the other village idiots has rendered her speechless was perfection.

These four, in my modest view, were the stand-out performances, but to a man (and woman) the whole cast were excellent.

Jed Laxton was convincing and his comic timing really good in his portrayal of duller-than-ditchwater Frank Pickle, and Nick Fletcher gave a sympathetic, impressive performance as David Horton, putting out the awkward, sometimes loveable, pomposity in perfect measures.

For me Letitia Cropley is not one of the most memorable of the Dibley TV stars, but she did come to life on the Spalding stage and Anne Temple did a great job of playing the mad old bird.

Unfortunately, Simon Temple was unable to reprise his role as Hugo Horton this time, but Andrew Rudd stepped into his shoes with aplomb.

He really impressed me with his first acting role in SADOS’ Wizard of OZ back in May, and he was great again here. Be careful not to be typecast as a buffoon though Andrew!

I’d not come across Ish Kamran before but he gave a thoroughly assured, confident performance as Geraldines fiance Harry Kennedy.

Natalie Mills as Harry’s sister Rosie and Colette Buchanan-Grey as the ‘other vicar’ played their small parts well too, with Colette’s cameo with Geraldine at the wedding one of many high points.

The plot focused on four TV specials – the vicar’s 40th birthday, her 10-year Dibley anniversary, the arrival of a handsome stranger and the wedding. Needless to say it was hilarious and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a (packed) South Holland Centre crowd laughing out loud so much.

The countless costume and prop changes were carried out seamlessly too, and the choirs from Act II and Handful of Harmonies singing before the start and at the interval respectively was a nice touch too.

Directed by Ron Nicolls and produced by Sophie Butler-Honeybun with assistance from Patsy Figg (the two were also the script writers), this show was an absolute triumph.

The next St Nicolas Players production is Old Actors Never Die in March next year... put it in your diary.

By Jeremy Ransome

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