Venue: Drama Barn
Rating: * * * *
Alan Bennett’s wit descended on the Drama Barn for the latest production of Habeas Corpus, bringing a bit of light-heartedness to an otherwise serious run of plays this season.
The exploration of the middle and working class cultures of 1960s Britain were cleverly paralleled. Laura Henderson’s Mrs Swabb was played marvelously with tongue-in cheek characterisation and brilliant facial expressions.
Mark Smith carried the cast as the quick-witted, desperate doctor Arthur Wicksteed. Smith perfected the role of the witty doctor with his quick delivery of lines, cheeky expressions and knee knocking creepiness. Polly Ingham exuded sexual energy with ease and Gethin James carried off the pompous nature of Sir Percy Shorter to perfection.
The touches of music, particularly ‘Sexual Healing’, added to the comic moments as we watched Suz Mason as Muriel Wicksteed seduce an unaware Denzil Shanks, played by Dan Kinninmont, a farcical moment which meant he played the majority of his part in boxer shorts. In contrast, the incepts of Second World War sound bites added nicely to the satirical and dramatic nature of the action.
The play’s charm came from the mixture of relief, comic farce and moments of “carry-on” clarity. The bawdy humour could easily have fallen flat but the cast sustained the merriment and frolicks throughout.