Habeas Corpus – Oct 2005

by Alan Bennett

Directed by Barry Mawer

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Media Release

It is sixties England and there are signs in Brighton’s “silk stocking” district of Hove that the permissive society is beginning to make its mark. So far most Brits haven’t noticed but all that is about to change.

That is the setting for this month’s hilarious Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe production of Alan Bennett’s satirical farce, “Habeas Corpus”. One UK reviewer described it as “all shapes and sizes frolicking their way through double entendres and complete farce, having far too much fun on the way.”

Dr Wicksteed (John Marwick) craves extra-marital affairs, his neglected and frustrated wife Muriel (Fran Baldock) craves attention, his flat chested sister Connie (Alex Cooper) craves a big bust, and his hypochondriac son Dennis (Dan Milward) craves a serious disease.

Throw in the goings on of a naughty vicar (Will Clannaghan), a lady newly returned from the colonies (Barbara Langford) and her lovely daughter Felicity (Elspeth Harris), a purveyor of false body parts (Peter Baldock), a suicidal depressive (Peter Hughson) and the President of the British Medical Association (Ed Hickey), all observed by the cleaning lady Mrs Swabb (Florence McFarlane), and you have the recipe for a side-splitting night out.

“Just what you would expect from the author of the Madness of George III,” says director Barry Mawer. “He uses his wit with great observational punch to satirise the so-called permissive society of the time. And it’s also very funny!”

Habeas Corpus is a legal term meaning “bring out the body”. This could well be a reference to obsessions the Wicksteed family and their acquaintances have with the body. Confusions, conspiracies and the mandatory trouser droppings are used to underline the sexual mores and class attitudes of the sixties. “He whose lust last, lasts longest” is one underlying moral of this wickedly funny play.

Cast & Production Team


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