Haddenham Players bring on the laughs with Vicar of Dibley

Vicar of Dibley by Haddenham Players. Picture Keith Milmer
Vicar of Dibley by Haddenham Players. Picture Keith Milmer

Haddenham Players certainly took on a challenge when they presented ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ at Haddenham Village Hall on Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15, writes Margaret Watkins.

To re-enact a much-loved TV series which had starred Dawn French and many other talented actors was testing, but the players’ adaptation by Rebecca Taylor and Nina Gregory struck the right note in every way.

Vicar of Dibley by Haddenham Players. Picture Keith Milmer

Vicar of Dibley by Haddenham Players. Picture Keith Milmer

On Saturday night the play was performed to a capacity audience and the laughs came thick and fast from the start. The cast kept up the pace and all the actors worked as a team to keep the jokes coming. Three of the actors, Ed Cairns, Graham Stoney and Sarah Wood, have been involved with Haddenham Players for many years and their experience showed in assured performances.

It was a pleasure also to see some new and talented actors becoming part of the team (some were seen in the recent successful pantomime and in the Murder Mystery charity event for Florence Nightingale Hospice). The newcomers come from Aylesbury and from our surrounding villages and it is good to see them collaborating with Haddenham Players.

It seems invidious to praise just one actor in such a talented team but Hannah Austin, who played Geraldine Granger, the eponymous Vicar, was outstanding. Bright and breezy, funny and full of empathy for the quirks of her Parish Council, she rivalled Dawn French in her depiction of the initially unwanted female vicar.

Not only was the talented Rebecca Taylor the director and producer but she also took the part of Alice, whose friendship with the Vicar was a mixed blessing. This provided many jokes, including a masterly extended riff on “I can’t believe it’s not butter”. Ably supported by Alistair Sanderson, beautifully ineffectual as Hugo Horton, Alice’s shy (until that amazing kiss!) would-be lover, Phil Donnelly as the domineering David Horton, David Pustansky as the stuttering Jim Trott, and James Kershaw as a dishy Simon Horton, the whole play was a great success.

Last, but certainly not least, the production team, backstage and front of house, supported the play with unexpected touches. Hymns played by pianist Andrew Dimond between set changes, overhead projections depicting the course of the lovers’ relationship, the quick transformation of the parish office to the church and then to the vicarage, the multiple changes of wigs and costumes for the Vicar, the choir boy (Stuart Taylor) singing beautifully at the beginning of the acts - all contributed to a show that Haddenham Players can be truly proud of presenting.