Review: Naughty but nice! HADIT milk the laughs in Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus performed by HADIT at Hope.
Habeas Corpus performed by HADIT at Hope.

Saucy shenanigans in a seaside town are just the tonic to ward off the autumn blues.

A hefty dose of humour dispensed by colourful characters goes down a treat and is the right prescription to draw sell-out audiences to Hope’s Methodist Chapel hall where HADIT are presenting the wickedly witty farce Habeas Corpus.

Alan Bennett’s wonderful script strips away the cosy veneer of a respectable community to expose a hotbed of infidelity and secrecy.

A caricature cut-out reminiscent of a seaside postcard gives a taste of what lies ahead.

Men stripped to their underpants, women flashing their pins in petticoats and unbuttoned dresses, a vicar desperate to experience the sins of the flesh and a flat-chested virgin dreaming of a big pair of boobs all figure in this politically incorrect play.

The permissive society of the Sixties is exemplified bin Jenni Argent’s lovely performance as the upper-crust pregnant hottie Felicity who looks a vision in black and white checked mini dress and white wet-look boots.

Paul Archer heads the cast as middle-aged GP Arthur Wicksteed with an eye for the ladies. HIs character’s bedside manner goes into overdrive when he meets the delectable young filly. One of the funniest scenes in the play is where the dirty doctor mulls over his approach to the girl, balancing his hot-blooded male’s point of view with that of an experienced medical man.

Sheree Smallwood plays his forthright and long-suffering wife Muriel who raises plenty of chuckles in her attempt to seduce a salesman who calls to check on the success of a bust-enhancing product and gets the wrong woman.

Fiona Johnston milks the laughs out of the role of the doctor’s prim spinster sister who longs for a large pair of knockers and whose personality and image changes when that wish comes true.

The Wicksteeds acne-afflicted, hypochondriac son Dennis is played by Martin Chapman for whom the days of spotty young man must seem a distant memory.

Delightful supporting performances come from Pat Gillatt as the nosy housekeeper cum narrator Mrs Swabb, Nick Williams as top physician Sir Percy Shorter, Jon Haddock as lascivious Canon Throbbing, Tim Smallwood as salesman Mr Shanks, Judith Coates as vocal Lady Rumpers and Tony Evans as suicidal patient Mr Purdue.

Produced by Carolyn Garwes, the show continues its run until Saturday, October 17.