Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett
Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th April 1991
The Civic Hall, Trowbridge
A play which highlights the sexual excesses of the Middle Classes in the 1960s. Arthur Wicksteed MD, trusted medical practitioner, is tempted by the feminine charms of a young lady who wanders into his surgery one afternoon feeling faint. By chance she meets the Doctor’s hypochondriac son, Dennis, during her visit and learns that he is terminally ill with Brett’s Palsy. This is the answer to her dreams as the honourable Felicity Rumpers is with child out of wedlock, a heinous crime, even in those promiscuous times. Three months of wedded bliss with the terminally ill Dennis will give her the respectability she needs when the baby eventually arrives.
Meanwhile, Arthur’s sister, Connie, is a little challenged around the mammalian protuberances and hence has difficulty in attracting male suitors. Her current courtship with the limp but good natured Canon Throbbing has spent ten years in complete stagnation. Connie’s fortunes change with the arrival of an appliance designed to give more proportion to her frontage as she uses her new found confidence to attract the visiting President of the BMA, Sir Percy Shorter. Arthur’s wife, Muriel, is more than a little put out by Percy’s preference for the dowdy Connie, as it was she who arranged for the eminent physician to visit with the intention of resuming an earlier relationship. Muriel is not left out of the relational merry go round as she welcomes Connie’s appliance fitter, Denzil Shanks, into the house. He believes that he has found the right Wicksteed and begins to adjust the appliance. Still at cross purposes Shanks takes photographs of Muriel to share with his colleagues back at Leatherhead, the appliance fitter headquarters.
The whole drama is narrated by Mrs Swabb, house keeper to the Wicksteeds and representative of the working classes.
Sir Percy Shorter