Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

More, er, sex vicar?

Entertaining Angels

The Grange Players

Grange Playhouse, Walsall


AT first sight the excellent set for Richard Everett's clever play, representing a lush, peaceful vicarage garden, suggests an evening of gentle humour with a religious flavour.

As the audience arrive in the auditorium they notice a rural smell then see a well-tended lawn rising several feet, trees, bushes, a hedge, scores of flowers, a greenhouse, even a meandering stream, and a rear window giving a glimpse of the home's interior.

A triumph for the play's director and producer, Martin Groves, who also designed the perfect set, and the cast do it justice in a performance bristling with wit, occasional anger and the kind of revelations hardly expected at the rural home of a clergyman.

Long-serving Vicar Bardolph has died and after years of pouring gallons of tea and delivering polite chat his widow, Grace, is suddenly free to say what she really thinks, and Julie Lomas is totally convincing in the role.

When her late husband, played by Robert Onions, appears on stage and chats to Grace, relatives believe she is talking to herself, but the charming scene suddenly explodes with the revelation that the respected vicar once made love to his unmarried missionary sister-in-law Ruth, who had a baby boy.

Gwen Evans has some lovely moments explaining the truth behind her embarrassing 'missionary position' some 30 years back, before exiting abroad, and raises a few laughs in the opening scenes when she darts around behind an electric lawn mower.

There are several highly amusing clashes between Ruth and her horrified sister when the dirty deed comes to light, while Jo - the vicar's divorced daughter - does he best to try and keep the peace.

Liz Webster gives a fine performance as psycho-therapist Jo who has had her own marital problems and suddenly finds her mum and aunt daggers drawn over the respected Vicar's one wicked moment in his past, which Ruth freely admits was all her fault.

To add to the sexual surprises, the incoming female vicar, Sarah, admits to a past affair with a french polisher. Stephanie Quance is impressive as Sarah who ends up pregnant in the final scenes after taking over the parish.

Although women dominate the play, Robert Onions gives what could be described as a spirited performance as the ghost of departed Vicar Bardolph - better known as 'Bard' - who had died of an apparent heart attack in his beloved garden. He appears and disappears through various doors and at one point even pops up through a trap door in the middle of the lawn - yet another clever feature of the set.  There are some poignant moments in his frequent meetings with Grace.

Entertaining Angels (it could be called Confessions in a Vicarage) runs to 23.03.13. Some tickets are still available for an enjoyable show.

Paul Marston

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