WARMINSTER’s Limelight Players played to full houses for four nights at the Athenaeum with The Vicar of Dibley: The Second Coming. Based on the 1990s television show (which starred Dawn French as the vicar of a rural parish full of eccentric characters), the show was first staged by the Limelight Players two years ago and this pre-Christmas encore was in response to popular demand.
Deborah Hyde successfully stepped into the surplice as Geraldine, the vicar, and Sarah Pickford’s portrayal of the naïve verger, Alice, was carried off with delightful conviction.
The individual characters at the parish meetings appeared to relish their roles with Graham Thomas as the chairman, David, maintaining authority as the chairman while struggling to sustain a Christian attitude towards his disappointing daughter in law (Alice).
There was a double set showing the parish hall and vicarage, with vignettes between Alice and the vicar in the vestry.
A rare hush descended on the audience when Frank, played by Robert Lewis, took the microphone for a personal “outing” on Dibley’s local radio station, which provided the action for much of the first act.
The second raised the comedy to a new level as it focused on preparations for the Christmas nativity play in which a heavily pregnant Alice takes the part of Mary. Much hilarity followed when the verger went into labour on stage and a vet from the audience volunteered to help.
The highlight of the show was Alice’s confusion about her personal and stage identity – as she cradles her newborn in her arms she wonders if she has given birth to the son of God!
The show was expertly directed and produced by the Players’ chairman, Adela Forestier Walker.