Sitting in the audience on the opening night of the latest Grantham Dramatic Society (GDS) production I could have been forgiven for thinking I had stepped on to the TV set.
Not because of the quality of the set design (not that there was anything wrong with it, I hasten to add), but because of the fantastic performance by the cast. From their costumes, to the way they carried themselves to their voices and tone, each and every one of them nailed their Vicar of Dibley character.
Leading lady was Gemma Dove, playing the Rev Geraldine Granger – and she was brilliant. I couldn’t believe it when I read in the programme that she is a relatively new member of the group. She has previously been stage manager and vice-chair of the GDS committee – and now she is a production lead. You would never have known it – she looked perfectly comfortable on stage.
A fan of the show, my favourite Vicar of Dibley character is, without a doubt, Alice. So I had hoped that Jo Toomey would do her justice – and she did. Jo is a familiar face in GDS productions and it shows. Her depiction of ditsy, daft Alice was brilliant, her mannerisms in particular.
A grumpy beligerent David Horton was played perfectly by Tony Hine. His second stage role with GDS, Tony has the part down to a T.
Bumbling Hugo was the part for Dave Asher, whose carry-on with his beloved Alice earned a fair few ‘ahhhs’ from the audience.
It would be difficult to choose a winner for the rudest Vicar of Dibley character if you had to choose between farmers Jim Trott and Owen Newitt – and it would be equally as difficult to choose a winner between the men that played them – Stephen Marsland and Gus Sparrow. Although, I must admit I was particularly impressed by Stephen’s voice – close your eyes and you’d be convinced it was TV’s Trevor Peacock.
Congratulations also go to Gail Meakin, who played Mrs Copley, Bryan Scatchard, who played Simon Horton, Anastasia Stevens-Brewin who played an angel and the handful of others who played minor roles. And well done to Evie Brown, whose beautiful voice sang out the opening tune.
My favourite parts of the show were the jokes told by Geraldine to Alice, which always finished off the episodes aired on TV. Gemma and Jo were wonderful – I can imagine it was nerve-wracking for Gemma as tell a joke wrong and the whole scene is ruined, but she carried it off with aplomb.
My only criticism of the show would be the lengthy set changes between scenes, which I felt affected the flow of the play and the story.
** The show is on at the Guildhall tonight (Friday) and tomorrow. For more information, or to book tickets, call the box office on 01476 406158.