The preparation wasn’t just learning the script. It was also watching past episodes of the show – great fun for all concerned as Ferring’s F A D S prepare to take to the stage with The Vicar of Dibley as their November production.
It will be staged at Ferring Village Hall, Ferring from November 20-23 at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
Tickets are £10 on www.ticketsource.co.uk/fa.
The TV sitcom ran from November 10 1994 to January 22 1998, set in a fictional small Oxfordshire village called Dibley, which is assigned a female vicar following the 1992 changes in the Church of England permitting the ordination of women.
Roy Stevens is directing a show which is in effect a tribute to the original exactly 25 years after it first aired.
“We are going to be trying to get as close to the TV show as possible,” Roy says. “
“We are very aware that people are going to turn up expecting to see the characters from the show.
“We have done a lot of watching videos and Youtube, and you can do a lot with costumes.
“I think we have got to remember that if you try to do your own interpretation of it, then 50 per cent of the audience will go home disappointed.
“The script is lifted directly form the TV programme. People are going to recognise the scenes.
“They will be saying ‘Oh yes, I remember that!’
“The guys that wrote the script are just so funny, and they have lifted like clips from the TV show for the stage show.
“It is like a compilation.
“It begins with the arrival of the new female vicar (played on TV by Dawn French) in the village and her getting to know the eccentrics around the parish council, and it also deals with the love between Hugh and Alice.
“Alice is the verger and is very dippy. She goes shotgun with the vicar through the village.
“They go through the parish council together trying to win them over.
“The parish council are quite anti-Geraldine when she first arrives.
“This was when the Church of England first ordained female vicars, and there was quite a big story around the very first one to be appointed. People were very suspicious of female vicars.
“And some of the lines in the show are really quite controversial in terms of being quite insulting about female vicars – ‘You can’t possibly have a female vicar!’, all that sort of stuff.
“But the comedy is brilliantly written.
“I think it is extremely funny, and I think people still relate to that kind of humour. You mention the show to a lot of people, and they will say ‘Oh yes, it is one of my favourite TV programmes.’
“But I would not say it is timeless. A lot of the humour is not humour you would put in today’s world.
“We have made no attempt to set it in modern times. It is set very much in the times in which it was written.”
The cast are enjoying the challenge, as is Roy.
“The pleasure of directing, I think, is that you are able to put your own stamp on something and come up with a creation.
“It is a creative thing. I love the planning and the designing the set and blocking the actors and helping them to deliver their lines and also helping them to express themselves…
“And then hopefully, you can sit back and enjoy the show with the audience!”