Dr Gemma Regan
I'm a writer, arts reviewer, a scientist, a UFO researcher and a Radio host for 4ZZZ 102.1FM with my show The Witching Hour exploring the paranormal, conspiracy and the esoteric. www.4zzzfm.org.au/program/the-witching-hour
The audience were in fits of laughter throughout the show
As a Pom, the notion of farce and pantomime runs in my blood. We are exposed to it from a young age and are expected to enjoy it regardless of taste, humour or inanity, as it is British, so it must be good! Of course, I have seen many a farce over the years and remember getting half price tickets to see Run for your Wife at the Duchess Theatre in London. It was painful to watch and at half price, it was still too much for the poorly executed production. Fortunately, Don't Get Your Vicars in a Twist was excellent; full of puns, Shakespearean mistaken identity and cross-dressing, and was easily worth the cheap price of the tickets!
George is the trusted Church Warden, played brilliantly by Gary Kliger, who exploits his new female vicar when she leaves the vicarage empty for the weekend. In a desperate attempt to make some quick cash to pay for his daughter's expensive fancy wedding, he secretly hires out the use of the vicarage to a touring murder mystery company "Murders Are Us" ran by Dickie Williams (Tyler Harris), a flamboyant actor in a pink suit.
George becomes embroiled in a web of lies as he tries to appease the demanding guests and the even more demanding actors. When Alan Palmer (Nick Cockcroft), the churchwarden, discovers George's plan he is unwittingly held accountable by the cunning George, who manipulates him throughout the weekend. The Bishop then arrives to visit the absent vicar with multiple cases of mistaken identity ensuing and an almost untimely end for the bemused Bishop Herbert (Alan Brown.) He was hilarious as a dignified, but confused diocesan. Fortunately, he was interchanged with a dummy in some scenes when he was being particularly abused!
The attentive set design of the inside hall of the vicarage, by William McCreery-Rye and the stage management of Rhyll Bucknell, helped enormously with the constant ins and outs prevalent in a farce. With 7 doorways and a back passage, it kept the frantic pace flowing and maintained the energy throughout the show. It also required split-second timing, with one door opening exactly as another closes. Although purposefully frustrating, the antics of the guests, actors and wardens was as farcical as it should be. With lots of cross-dressing, Lady Madeleine (Stephanie Whitbread) as a lascivious guest, Freda (Honey Butz) and Angela (Marion Jones) as a couple of prudish christians, and Marigold and Ronald (Richard Edwards and Natalie Pedler) as two lushes who hated each other, it was an explosive mixture.
Both bishops were spectacular as diametrically opposed characters; one pious and one a drunken actor, with the touch paper being lit under George when he had to pretend to be the lady vicar talking to the real dazed and bruised bishop.
My son, along with the majority of the audience, were in fits of laughter throughout the show. He exclaimed at the end that it was one of the best shows he had ever seen. Perhaps the appreciation of a really good farce runs in the blood! Once the chaotic plot had unravelled and come to a climax, the actors returned to show off their 70s disco moves to "We Are Family", for an epic ending and curtain call. It was a riotous heretical farce to make any Pom proud!