Habeus Corpus – September 2006

Experience: 3/10

By Alan Bennett

Directed by Peter Hall

Company: Peter Hall Company

Venue: Theatre Royal, Brighton

Date: Tuesday 19th September 2006

I found this disappointing; Alan Bennett doing Joe Orton, not really my cup of tea. The performances were excellent, as usual, and it was weird to see several actors whom we’d seen last week in Measure for Measure at the Courtyard in Stratford, appear again tonight. I hadn’t realised that the Peter Hall Company was touring two plays, so we got to see both within a week of each other.

There were some laughs, and as I say the performances were fine, but much of the writing was very dated, and some of the jokes were telegraphed minutes before they arrived. This piece could do with a good rewrite to bring it more up-to-date, or else be left in a drawer somewhere till it’s old enough to be a classic.

Good points – Barry Stanton without a beard (and I haven’t seen that before!) playing a charlady with an uncanny knack for knowing everything that’s going to happen or has happened – has she read the script? Edward Bennett was superb as Canon Throbbing, desperate to get laid, and Paul Bentall, recently the Provost inVienna, was enjoyable as a travelling artificial breast fitter who mistakes a real pair (Annette Badland’s ample bosom) for his company’s work.

© 2006 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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