A classic play, extremely well performed and an ideal vehicle to welcome the audience back into the theater.
Set in the permissive sixties, around the time of the Sexual Revolution, Habeas Corpus bordered on farce (several men lose their pants), had a semblance of pantomime (although few women made Cinderella’s chest feel) and had more rhyming couplets than you do. to hear at an evening of Greek poetry.
Mark Kendall played Dr Wickstead, a lewd GP, who also chatted with the audience between his designs on Felicity (Sarah Seed) consulting him about her pregnancy.
Felicity agreed to marry her son, Dennis (Ben Percival) who assured her that he only had three months to live, which is all she could take from him anyway.
Meanwhile, another of the doctor’s patients was busy trying to hang himself in the background.
Chris Turner as Sir Percy Shorter also has designs on Felicity, little knowing that she is in fact his daughter, the result of a wartime affair in an air raid shelter with her mother, Lady Rumpers (Debbie Taylor).
Meanwhile, the doctor’s sister Constance (Melanie Murphy) is worried about her flat chest so she orders a pair of fake boobs.
Company salesman Mr. Shanks (Alan Freeman) arrives to adjust them but she takes her efforts as a welcome groping and quickly relieves him of his pants to the disappointment of the vicar, Canon Throbbing (Paul Sylvester), who has worn a torch for her for years.
Carole Unitt played Muriel Wickstaff, the doctor’s wife, who can’t wait to have a lover of her own, sets her sights on Sir Percy, losing several clothes in the process.
Carol Caine, as Mrs. Swabb the housekeeper, acted as a commentator, explaining what was going on, just in case the audience was confused. As if!
The result of it all was utter confusion, lots of belly laughs, and remarkably good acting. Not a line was missed in the overall performance. Director Dennis Yardley must have had a Herculean task and deserves a medal.
However, I wonder if Alan Bennett would have already made this play take off if he had written it today in the current moral climate?