NNT: Habeas Corpus

The final instalment in the New Theatre season…


Alan Bennett’s play Habeas Corpus is all farce and fun focused on the ludicrous Wicksteed family: bumbling hypochondriac son Dennis (Giles Gear), the randy doctor Arthur (Jacob Hayes), sex starved Muriel (Suzie Roope) and the flat chested spinster Connie (Rosie van Oss).

This play is not about love, as the characters often point out. Instead it is about bodily lusts and its destructions, and boy, is there a lot of that! We are introduced to several mini narratives, governed under the skeptical eye who makes passing comments as she walks around with her trusty hoover.

The final instalment in the New Theatre season

All farce and fun

The narratives begin quite innocently with all of the Wicksteed’s leaving home under false pretenses; instead of going to the girl scouts, spinster Connie (Rosie Van Oss) awaits her enhanced bra, while the ridiculous vicar, who is brilliantly played by Ben Hollands, tries to attract her attention. All of this is happening while both Mr and Mrs Wicksteed attempt to cheat, which leads to hilariously outrageous consequences.

Scenes featuring the talented Giles Gear and Suzie Roope are particularly impressive, granting a sense of much-needed humanity to the absurd nature of the play. Perhaps Dennis and Muriel really are chasing after love after all, and Gear’s and Roope’s performances are convincing in their dedication.

It’s just a pity that the soundtrack sometimes threatens to drown out the on-stage goodness; the music during during Arthur Wicksteed’s monologues was particularly egregious.

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The final instalment in the New Theatre season

Filled with miscommunication, mistaken identities and a lot of festive boxers and socks on show; director Chelsea Jayne Wright and producer Nikki Hill revive an old 70s favourite to give us is an odd blend of Eastenders and Carry On. If sexual innuendos aren’t up your street (if so, what street do you live on?) Habeas Corpus may not be suitable. However, if you want a good laugh before January exams, this is perfect two-hour escape.