The Vicar of Dibley comes to Bognor Regis

The cast
The cast

After success in 2015 with Fawlty Towers, BROS take to the stage with their second straight play, The Vicar of Dibley.

The company are relishing the challenge of creating something fresh while juggling all the expectations the show is bound to bring.

Performances will be in Bognor’s Alexandra Theatre on Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29 at 7.30pm (plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee).

The Vicar of Dibley comes with the permission of Tiger Aspect Productions, in support of Comic Relief, adapted from the original TV series by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer.

Life in the sleepy Oxfordshire village of Dibley is turned upside-down when the ancient Reverend Pottle dies and the diocese sends a new-fangled female vicar, Geraldine Granger, as his replacement – a character famously played by Dawn French in the TV series.

“The show runs from Geraldine’s arrival as the new vicar and finishes with Alice and Hugo’s wedding,” says director Kate Bennett. “We have put it together from the TV scripts. What you get is permission to do The Vicar of Dibley, and you buy the compendium of scripts. They give you permission to create your own show within the context of the series and the characters.

“We had contemplated doing another three episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are very difficult to stage because they are TV scripts which you have to make work. The episodes that were left would have been very difficult, so we looked around at other TV comedies, and The Vicar of Dibley suited the people that were available.

“I loved the show, and I think it is still very funny. We are very lucky that we have been able to get the right people for the right roles. It’s very accessible humour, and that’s the joy of it. It is gentle humour and the humour comes from the characters totally. The vicar has a very dry humour. She is the linchpin of the piece. It is set in two venues, the parish hall and the vicarage, and she is the one that crosses over into both.

“At the start, it is very much Geraldine’s fight to become accepted, but as the piece goes on, she becomes very much part of the village life. It is less about her being a woman and more about her being the village vicar.

“At the end, she is intending to leave, but she has become so much part of their lives they want her to stay. That’s the good thing about the ending. Even the chairman of the parish council who was very much against women vicars wants her to stay.

“There are a lot of TV adaptations, and some are more accessible than others. A lot would be very difficult to put on. Dad’s Army would be very difficult. I have seen it done, but it is very male.

“And I think Are You Being Served? would be a little bit dated. I would really like to do ‘Allo ‘Allo, but again it is a bit male, and finding the right men is always hard. With this one, we were very lucky.”

When you are rehearsing it, inevitably you have to stop thinking of Dawn French and the TV originals: “But the audience do come with expectations, and you need to get it as close to the originals as possible.

“You can’t try to do an interesting original take on it. If you are wanting to put your own stamp on something, you shouldn’t be trying to do a TV adaptation.

“I think the cast are very close to the originals without being impressions. I am happy that the audience won’t be disappointed.”

Tickets from the venue on alexandratheatre.co.uk.

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