Haddenham Players




Haddenham Players certainly took on a challenge when they presented "The Vicar of Dibley" at Haddenham Village Hall on Saturday and Sunday 14th/15th April 2018. 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.

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/ 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 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 acts — all contributed to a show that Haddenham Players can be truly proud of presenting.

By Margaret Watkins for haddenham.net


Lynne Colley, well known for her leadership of the popular Haddenham Youth Theatre and her accomplished acting for Haddenham Players, directed the recent production of 'Trivial Pursuits' presented at St Mary's School on 2nd and 3rd October.

Lynne set herself, and her actors, a challenge with this bitter sweet comedy, encompassing changes of mood, dialogue which moved swiftly from one group of actors to another and alternating focus from one character's concerns to another. The cast, under Lynne's direction, rose to the challenge and, working as a team, provoked laughter and pathos in quick succession.

The action took place at a BBQ hosted by Nick, the business manager of a local Operatic Society, and his wife Roz, ably played by James Kershaw and Julia Witcher. The members of the Society were assembled to learn from Nick which show would be the next production. Much of the humour comes from the dilemmas the hapless Nick unsuccessfully faces during the evening, from the failure to light the barbecue to the efforts he has to make to cover up from his wife his indiscretions with Jessica, one of the members of the group.

The cast, several of whom were acting with Haddenham Players for the first time, kept up a fast pace as one by one they revealed a hidden personal agenda. Unfortunately for Nick, their ideas for a future show and their own potential for starring roles in their chosen shows do not coincide with the show he has in mind and the role he has promised to the alluring young actress Jessica, played by Cassy Childs.

Much of the humour in the first half of the play was provided by a wonderfully camp performance by Mike Sullivan as Teddy in a wig that had to be seen to be believed and Joyce, played by Sally Fleming as a reforming alcoholic who lapses into a more and more drunken hysteria and finally teeters across the stage in the most amusing depiction of the staggers that I have ever seen. Their duets from 'Oklahoma', their preferred show, were suitably raucous and out of tune!

Underlying all this comedy is the darker side of the action, the broken marriage of Derek, with Simon Fraser convincingly playing a husband in despair because he has bought his wife Deirdre, Hannah Austin, a washing machine, a microwave and a food mixer and cannot understand what more she wanted in her marriage. The actors had the difficult task of changing the mood of the play and yet getting a measure of grim humour out of this sad situation. They succeeded admirably, evoking a quietness in the audience as they tried to come with grips with their failings in the marriage and laughter as they became reconciled after Derek injured his leg whilst trying to jump off a roof!

The main players were admirably supported by Sarah Wood as Pearl who tried in vain to point out that the company was in the red and probably could not afford to put on any productions; the aptly named Mona, who wanted to present an all singing and dancing production to show off her talents as a choreographer, played with comic skill by Jean McConaghy; and Eddie, a man obsessed by television, played by Gordon Lawson with nice touches of incomprehension that other people did not share his obsession.

The success of the play was a tribute to Lynne Colley's determination and perseverance as the original production had to be postponed and new members of cast introduced at a late date. The fact that they presented an ensemble piece in which there were no weak links says much about Lynne's undoubted gifts as a director and the talent of the actors.

By Margaret Watkins for haddenham.net