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Theatre group The Florians present the slightly-delayed Christmas sequel to earlier hit production The Vicar Of Dibley which reunites friends in lead roles

By Margaret Chrystall

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A Vicar Of Dibley Christmas: The Second Coming – a seasonal sequel for Inverness theatre group The Florians – is running this week.

A Vicar Of Dibley Christmas: The Second Coming reunites Sasha Devine as Alice (left) and Lesley Mitchell as Geraldine. Picture: Caroline Nicol
A Vicar Of Dibley Christmas: The Second Coming reunites Sasha Devine as Alice (left) and Lesley Mitchell as Geraldine. Picture: Caroline Nicol

The play by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter, adapted from the original TV series by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, follows 2018’s successful run of The Vicar Of Dibley.

The Florians say the drama will follow on from Alice and Hugo’s honeymoon and to expect the return of all the regular characters from the hit BBC series.

It will also reunite the dream team of Lesley Mitchell as Geraldine the vicar with her best friend Alice, played by Sasha Devine, alongside many of the same faces from the previous ensemble cast.

Lesley said: “I don’t want to give any spoilers, but the story picks up after Hugo and Alice’s wedding and is about their adventures and Alice – who is played by my best friend Sasha Devine – is in it a lot more in this play.”

It was in June three years ago when The Florians did the first play and this sequel was originally scheduled to be performed by them in 2020, but Covid and its restrictions put it on hold until now.

Lesley said: “This is my first big role for quite a long time, so it’s equally wonderful and terrifying!

“But it was a real family production we had before and, though a few people from then couldn’t return to the roles, the replacements are fantastic and have fitted right in.

“We’ve had a much shorter rehearsing period – we would normally have been rehearsing for 12 weeks instead of eight, so it’s been a lot of hard work for all of the cast and crew and Caroline Nicol who is directing it – but it has been a lot of good fun.

“There are still Covid restrictions in place with masks when moving about or for people working backstage.

“We have to do our check-ins and our lateral flow tests before every rehearsal, and the Florians have really good risk assessment in place too.”

As Geraldine, Lesley enjoys returning to the role.

“It’s so great to be back in the vicarage drinking tea and talking nonsense with Alice,” laughed Lesley. “Geraldine can sometimes sound a little sharp with Alice when she is talking nonsense, but I think there is just an absolute generous love between the two of them.

“When me and Sasha were cast originally as well, some of the conversations we had in real life were very like Geraldine and Alice!

“Just the kind of nonsense and shorthand Geraldine and Alice have with each other is lovely.”

Sasha Devine, who plays opposite Lesley as Alice, said: “It’s lovely being back in Alice’s shoes.

“The play covers the Dibley Christmas show and sees it through from casting to the nativity and the script is an absolute joy!

“When we did The Vicar Of Dibley the first time around, I said it was like chicken soup for the soul – and this time around it’s like cream of chicken soup for the soul! It’s the right show for the right time for what we have all been going through.

“You are so anxious to do the original character and the actress justice and make her recognisable – but you also want to put your own little stamp on it.

“But it’s much easier saying the lines at rehearsals rather than trying to say them at home in your own voice, because it just doesn’t work.”

The Dibley cast congregated with Geraldine (second left) and Alice (right). Picture: Caroline Nicol
The Dibley cast congregated with Geraldine (second left) and Alice (right). Picture: Caroline Nicol

Lesley revealed she is bravely facing her nemesis again after her earlier experience in The Vicar Of Dibley.

“I’m pleased I don’t have to eat so much chocolate in this one!” she said. “I haven’t eaten chocolate since the last one because I was put off it so much. I only have one piece of chocolate cake to eat in this one, so that’s good!”

n Tickets for the show, which runs until Saturday, are available online at florians.org.uk

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