Habeas Corpus
Date performed:
Alan Bennett
Feb 2003

Information about this production is shown below. To return to the main productions page click here.

"Habeas Corpus" is a title that might cause a potential playgoer who was unfamiliar with the play to believe that it was about the law. In legal terms a writ of habeas corpus is a demand to someone to hand over a person who has been unlawfully detained. However, its literal meaning is "Have you the body" and is therefore a very appropriate title for this witty and clever satire on the sexual revolution and the permissive society.

It was originally produced at the Lyric Theatre, London on May 10 1973 and the cast list is a "Who's Who" of the British teatre. Alec Guinness played Wicksteed opposite Margaret Cortenay as his long suffering wife, Muriel. Also in the cast were Patricia Hayes as Mrs Swabb, Madeline Smith as Felicity Rumpers, Andrew Sachs as Mr Shanks and John Bird as Sir Percy Shorter.

Tudor Players first produced "Habeas Corpus" in Octoer 1980 and again the cast list included some of the best know actors in amateur theatre in Sheffield at that time. Jack Parkin played Wicksteed and was supported by Betty Crawford as Murial Wicksteed and Barry Allen as Sir Percy Shorter.

Also in the cast were three current members who have proved their longevity by appearing in this production as well:- Mike Smith, Ian Walker and David Bramah!

Roger Bingham directed the play, which was a major awards winner in the SADATA Full-Length Play Festival.

Thoughts from the Director, Phil Gascoyne:

It's 30 years since Bennett wrote "Habeas Corpus" and when we started rehearsals it crossed my mind that it might be a bit dated. After all, it's a satirical side-swipe at the sexual morals of society, the permissive society of the 60s and its obsession with the pursuit of bodily pleasures. Surely today's society has grown out of this. Surely we are far more tolerant and liberal these days, aren't we? We live and let live, don't we?

But pick up any Sunday tabloid and you find an endless series of Technicolor exposes of all things naughty, a never ending quest to bring to the public's attention the private goings on of respectable pillars of society. All don in a puritanical attempt to remove sleaze from society (and the boost to sales from such articles is purely co-incidental. How could you think otherwise?)

Added to this the magazines feed us a rich diet of advice on how to be a better lover, how to chat up the opposite sex and surveys to test your sexual compatibility.

You know, all of a sudden, it doesn't seem to have aged a bit!


(Click on images to view full size versions).

Arthur Wicksteed Phil Gascoyne
Murial Wicksteed Judith Wade
Dennis Wicksteed Ric Waterhouse
Constance Wicksteed Lauren Fletcher
Mrs Swabb Paul Wilkinson
Canon Throbbing Ian Walker
Lady Rumpers Andrea Howard
Felicity Rumpers Sarah Atkinson
Mr Shanks Mike Smith
Sir Percy Shorter Brian Parker
Mr Purdue David Bramah

Director Phil Gascoyne
Set Design Phil Gascoyne
Peter Howard
Set Construction Bryan Ashcroft
Peter Howard
John Jakins
Nick Martin
Tony Webb
Stage Managers Peter Howard
John Jakins
Lighting Paul Screaton
Sound Bryan Ashcroft
Choreography Edwina Gascoyne
Front of House Tony Webb
Members of the group
Tickets Arthur Jakins
Joan Jakins