Habeas Corpus – Alan Bennett

Next Stage Theatre

Mission Theatre, Bath


This is classic Bennett with his razor sharp wit and thought provoking humanity, full of warmth with frantic humour bordering on farce; on this occasion the cast the Mission Theatre have got it absolutely right.

The plot is a satirical merry go round we are presented with a series of mistaken identities, sexual tensions and dropped trousers in true comedy style. Set in Hove, Dr. Wicksteed alongside his friends and family explore their sexual fantasies and passions in this glorious script The main thrust of the piece relying on Dr. Wicksteed’s motto “He whose lust lasts, lasts longest.”

The direction (Alison Paine) is slick and well paced, the sparse set allowing seamless transitions and ensuring the internal monologues of the often bewildered and frustrated characters are carried easily through the rapid scenes and musical interludes.

The performances are excellent. Caroline Groom (Mrs. Swabb) is a wonderful narrator, all knowing and gossiping but completely in control. David Holt (Dr. Wicksteed) a gloriously lecherous GP neatly cast alongside Kay Francksen (Mrs. Wicksteed) his long suffering, sexually frustrated wife who seeks a little bit of spice and most definitely finds it. Mike Stevens (Mr Shanks) is the scene stealing salesman on the hunt for his “client.”

The entire cast are picture perfect, the comedy is bawdy and the timing is immaculate. This is a great achievement and kicks 2017 off in fine style for this exciting company.

Petra Schofield