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Inverness theatre group The Florians resurrect the joy of TV's weirdest parish with The Vicar Of Dibley Christmas: The Second Coming


By Margaret Chrystall



REVIEW: A Vicar Of Dibley Christmas: The Second Coming

Florians Little Theatre, Inverness

5 stars

Covid and lockdown meant that the return of Dibley to The Florians Little Theatre has been a long time coming.

Experiencing A VICAR OF DIBLEY CHRISTMAS: THE SECOND COMING is like biting into a warm mince pie – fruity, spicy and all wrapped up in a seasonal glow.

Dibley's loyal church committee plans community events, comedy ensues. From left – Martin Anderson as Owen, Lesley Mitchell as Geraldine, Nicholas Nicol as Hugo, Ian Shearer as Frank, Anna Bamborough as Letitia and Trevor Nicol as Jim. Picture: Alison Ozog
Dibley's loyal church committee plans community events, comedy ensues. From left – Martin Anderson as Owen, Lesley Mitchell as Geraldine, Nicholas Nicol as Hugo, Ian Shearer as Frank, Anna Bamborough as Letitia and Trevor Nicol as Jim. Picture: Alison Ozog

As anyone who saw the first Vicar Of Dibley production from The Florians would suspect, the same writers do a lovely Christmas storyline, adapted from one of the TV episodes and two specials run together.

And luckily the cast – many returning to their previous roles – had beautifully nailed the tiny details that made characters, familiar to us from the hit TV series, come alive on the Florians’ stage: Martin Anderson as Owen is just that little too free with his casual offers to bed vicar Geraldine, Trevor Nicol as Jim has the perfect gruff voice and yes-no, mostly no, dithering; Ian Shearer as Frank is edgy and hesitant with his timid time-wasting; Anne Bamborough is all-too generous as Letitia Cropley whose food offers – such as bread with humous, jam and pilchards – are always best avoided; Nicholas Nicol creates a David Horton superbly superior and snide about everyone; Matthew Kremer as David’s son Hugo is delightfully dim and sweetly in love with his new wife Alice Horton nee Tinker, made equally dim by Sasha Devine, but also scatty, lovable and best friend of vicar Geraldine, whom Lesley Mitchell makes warm-hearted, fun and resigned to her barmy community.

It is truly an ensemble cast with everyone bearing the weight of resurrecting Dibley, though special mention has to go to Lesley Mitchell as Geraldine and Sasha Devine as Alice, who portray that unusual friendship with perfect timing and genuine affection.

The action brings us radio revelations, quiz comeuppances as “Alice in Dunderland” with “the intellectual capacity of a prawn sandwich” causes an upset in the annual Brain Of Dibley.

But the climax of the two-act show comes when vicar Geraldine decides to create a Christmas show “that the people of Dibley will remember for the next 1,000 years”.

And all from a surprisingly good idea from Alice – who ends up being at the heart of things – in fact, totally delivering on the production!

Sasha Devine as Alice and Lesley Mitchell as the vicar, Geraldine. Picture: Alison Ozog
Sasha Devine as Alice and Lesley Mitchell as the vicar, Geraldine. Picture: Alison Ozog

Special touches add to the show, such as carefully-chosen snippets of songs to keep us entertained as action constantly swapped between Geraldine’s vicarage and the village hall. The music included everything from A Wombling Merry Christmas to The Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work, Dolly Parton’s singing Go Tell It On The Mountain to O Come All Ye Faithful. But the scene changes were slick and too fast to hold back the action.

A lovely "Aww"' moment came with the appearance of the lovely Little Angels (Gracie Schofield and Jess Davidson).

Though it is not the traditional Florians panto their audiences have come to look forward to – easier with Covid restrictions to have this show with its smaller cast – this Florians’ Christmas show pretty much matches the best ingredients their panto can offer.

Expect loveable characters, unholy laughs, cracker-level jokes, and all the festive fun you could pray for.

Follow not one but the five stars easily earned by this show – and hope there might be a ticket or two left. MC

A Vicar Of Dibley Christmas: The Second Coming has a show tonight (Friday) and its final show on Saturday. Tickets: florians.org.uk

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