The Tart and the Vicar's Wife

This comedy drama was the second show in the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre’s series of summer dramas and ran during the week of Tuesday 14th and Saturday 18th July 2009. I saw the show on Wednesday 15th July and again sat on the front row. The cast were even smaller than the previous week, with only eight members:
>       Marcus Hutton
>      Linda Armstrong
>       Daniel Crowder

    Matt Healy
>        Nicola Weeks

>       Suzie Chard
>       Sarah Jane Buckley
>        Danielle Johnson

The entire drama is set in the kitchen of a cottage situated in a small village during the summer. It begins after a horrendous car crash, involving Robert Parry which resulted in the affluent businessman deciding to devote his life to God and become a vicar, and his wife Glenda Parry, the previously glamorous ‘exec’ wife, in a complete transformation, now organising village fetes and helping those in need rather than organising extravagant dinner parties. Due to her discontentment with her new life, under a pseudonym, Glenda begins to write saucy adult stories in a women’s magazine. With her husband having left on a week long seminar, Glenda and her friends, Sindy O’Connor (an American backpacker), Kate Spencer (the frumpy, farmers wife) and Pru (the posh, antiques dealer), all of whom are struggling to make ends meet. Joe Carpenter, a recent addition to the village, intends to receive the Reverend’s help in exorcising a ghost in his new house, however he meets the four women, and after hearing how far they’ll go to earn money, he introduces them to his friend Selina, and the girls agree to become high-class escorts for the week the Reverend is away. The drama portrays the problems the women come across while trying to achieve their status as high-class, especially due to Sindy’s young age, and the constant appearance of the Reverend Henry Benson.

Without a doubt the start of the performance was Linda Armstrong who had stepped in at the last minute to take over from Bernie Nolan who had dropped out due to preparations with the Nolan sisters reunion tour, and Linda provided a faultless performance, and I doubt Bernie Nolan could have given us anything more. Linda’s looks and personality fitted in perfectly with the fact that her character wrote racy short stories under a pseudonym and showed flawlessly how she had not adapted well to her new lifestyle.

Another wonderful performance was given by Nicola Weeks, playing the young, backpacking American, Sindy O’Connor. She effortlessly portrayed the innocence and vulnerability that was asked of the character, before showing her strong, solid side when brought up against obstacles and the romance that blossoms between her and Joe Carpenter.

Even though much of the show was doused in a rich sense of comedy, there were some poignant, thought-provoking moments when each of the women revealed just what had led them to their lives today and why they were agreeing to becoming a high-class escort. These moments balanced out the constant comedy and reminded the audience that not everything was always happy-go-lucky in their lives.

Like the previous drama there was very little to criticise, the use of props such as the feather boas, as well as the costumes and lingerie that the cast wore were all used to add to the story in the best way possible and all of the cast’s performance was at its best. The only criticism was that it didn’t go on for longer.  Most probably my favourite part of the show was right at the end when Linda Armstrong, alone on stage, gave what was sort of an epilogue to the whole show, an official end, which summed up the whole moral and theme of the show and gave the feeling of completion while still leaving the audience to wonder what happened afterwards.

While the show was certainly not for younger audiences, the drama provided an excellent evening of comedy, and with the credit crunch currently hot on everyone’s mind, the story themes certainly strike a chord with many of the audience, and it is interesting to see just how far some people will go to gain the money they need. Not to mention the twists with the romance in the drama, and especially with the story of all the women’s backgrounds the show provided an exceptional night out and I would undoubtedly recommend it to others for a night away from the normalities of their own lives and to have a good laugh.