WA premiere of official The Vicar of Dibley stage show

Karen Godfrey as Geraldine Granger with Ledge Point resident James Nailen who plays Owen Stewart in The Vicar of Dibley. Picture: Rochelle Hayward

LEDGE Point resident James Nailen is appearing in the Western Australian debut of the official The Vicar of Dibley stage adaptation next month.

Adapted by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter from the original 1990s TV series by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, the script spans the first two seasons with some later references thrown in.

Kelly Salathiel is directing the show for Laughing Horse Productions at the Koorliny Arts Centre. 

The story follows the arrival and adventures of a new female vicar in a small English country town, finishing with the wedding of Hugo and Alice. 

 Nailen plays Owen Newitt, a typical cattle farmer without any airs and graces. 

 “He says things as he sees them and has old-school values,” he said. 

 “The difficulty is getting the little character flaws in perspective –­ too much and it doesn’t look authentic but if there’s not enough we don’t get to see the simple nature of the character. 

 “The character of David Horton, who is the chair of the Dibley Parish Council Committee, hits the nail on the head when he talks about Owen and says ‘Okay, you’re not a lunatic but you are a famous idiot’. 

 “Getting that simplicity into a character without making him look stupid is quite a challenge.” 

Part of Criterion Theatre in Coventry for several years, Nailen appeared in productions such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Fosdyke Saga, Pinocchio, Outside Edge, Blood Brothers and The Passion of Dracula. 

He was the male lead in The Golden Pathway Annual, winner of the Birmingham Evening Mail Award for best comedy play. 

In Perth, Nailen has appeared with Garrick Theatre and the Irish Club of WA in House of Dracula – where he won several awards for playing Jekyll and Hyde – and The Big 60. 

 “The Vicar of Dibley appealed because I love Dawn French and feel it is one of the best comedies of its time,” he said. 

Salathiel said she had always loved The Vicar of Dibley TV show and watched it whenever it was on television. 

“I’m trying to honour the original show and having the right cast, who understands that, helps in a big way,” she said. 

 “The fact the script we’re working off has never been produced in WA before means the show is already something the audience wouldn’t have previously seen.”