by Alan Bennett
24th – 27th September
Directed by Daniel Toyne
Habeas Corpus is a satirical merry-go-round in which we meet the Wicksteed family, their friends and acquaintances, for whom the determination to put sex and the satisfactions of the body before everything else is the ruling passion of their lives.
The permissive society of the 1960s is taken to task in a farcical comedy in which the characters move and dance their way through a maze of mistaken identities and sexual encounters. As Wicksteed says at the close: “He whose lust lasts, lasts longest”.
Born in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1934, Alan Bennett is one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights. His tragic comic works often hit at the heart of family life, with his writing frequently focusing on obsessions with class, cleanliness, propriety and sexual repression. While Bennett’s ‘Englishness’ and ‘Northerness’ are evident, the characters he writes about, and the issues they raise, are of universal appeal.
Habeas Corpus is one of Bennett’s earliest plays. Written in 1973, it is an action-packed farce which pokes fun at the sexual excesses of the English middle classes in the 1960s.The drama revolves around the activities of the Wicksteed family and their acquaintances. Dr Arthur Wicksteed doesn’t pay his wife—the big bosomed Muriel—enough attention. Instead, he pursues a young patient, the Hon. Felicity Rumpers, who in turn pursues (for reasons of her own) the doctor’s son, Dennis. Meanwhile, Arthur’s sister, Constance, is horribly aware of her flat chest…and decides to do something about it. One complication leads to another, indiscretions from the past are revealed, and almost everyone behaves thoroughly badly.
Habeas Corpus was last performed by the Stage Club to packed houses in 1997, and this all-new production by Director Daniel Toyne (The Tempest, The Lion in Winter, Shakespeare on Love, The Rivals) gives audiences another welcome opportunity to enjoy an evening of hilarious, no-holds-barred entertainment.