We all love a good farce, and New Theatre’s interpretation of “Habeas Corpus” certainly gave us one. From the beginning the audience is whisked into a whirlwind of bourgeois baseness centred around the lecherous Dr Wicksteed and his equally unfaithful wife who, in their efforts to escape the boredom of their marriage, descend into hilarious chaos, dragging friends and family members down with them. In fact, the only moral or scruple in sight comes from the housekeeper Mrs. Swab, played by Liz Stevenson, who narrates the events with a knowing and somewhat sarcastic eye.

The visual, slapstick comedy in this play relies heavily on the skill of the actors. Bennett’s clever lines and hilarious innuendos were matched excellently by the cast as the fast pace of the production and excellent comic timing ensured there was never a lull or moment of boredom. The accents chosen, from the northern Mrs. Swab to the clipped Dr. Wicksteed and the inventive use of costume and props ensured that not an inch of visual comedy was wasted.

David Edgercoomb’s portrayal of the sexually frustrated vicar Canon Throbbing with his vivacious movements and eccentric voice proved a special hit with the audience as did the snooty warblings of Mrs. Wicksteed, animatedly played by Lucy Butler. In short, this production is hugely entertaining with all the comings and goings, uncompromising positions, misunderstandings, confusion, debauchery and of course laughter that can be hoped for in a farce.

Sarah Hall

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