Alan Bennett’s hilarious farce
The first show of our 2016-17 season is Alan Bennett’s hilarious farce, ‘Habeas Corpus’. It can’t be better described than in Paul Taylor’s review of a revival at the Donmar Warehouse in 1996:
‘Mammaries and mortality loom large in Habeas Corpus, Alan Bennett’s blissfully funny 1973 farce. Like some saucy Magill seaside postcard as retouched by Magritte, or an end-of-the-pier romp reorganised by Orton, the piece shows how a collection of stock types from Hove (randy GP, sex-starved wife, flat-chested spinster who longs to be stacked like the Cairngorms, etc) find themselves propelled into the permissive society with the arrival of a false-breast fitter from Leatherhead. Identities are mistaken, the wrong knockers admiringly fondled, and libidos burst out of enforced hibernation.
Putting the focus on a couple of doctors who want to ensnare each other for professional malpractice enables Habeas Corpus to be in two minds about the human body. The job is a licence for roving hands and eyes and the play is very droll about the parless protocols of touch (‘Touching is what loved ones are for,’ declares the permanently affronted Lady Rumpers, ‘because loving takes the sting out of it.’). But being a doctor also offers extensive opportunities for getting to grips with the body at its least lovely and most mortal. Hence the conclusion that you should get as much sex in as you can before the only thing that’s rampant about you is the rot.’
The Apollo Players leap in where angels may well fear to tread, so prepare to be appalled, affronted and helpless with laughter!