Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Habeas Corpus"

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Beverly Creasey


"Corpus" Delectable

By Beverly Creasey

I’ve often thought, as I’ve watched the BBC comedy imports they broadcast on PBS, that those stuffy Brits have bizarre taste where (televised) sex is concerned. In support of my thesis, I offer Alan Bennett’s wacky sex farce, HABEAS CORPUS, currently up at Hovey Players in Waltham, in a downright hilarious production, directed by the very naughty John MacKenzie.

The shenanigans are most definitely in questionable taste but I laughed so hard I was afraid I might miss some of Bennett’s outrageous dialogue. Luckily, MacKenzie’s crackerjack cast knows the rhythm of the lines (and the rhythm of the pauses) so you don’t miss much while you convulsed in your seat.

The bawdy goings-on center around a randy doctor, his frisky wife, his hormonally challenged son, a sex-starved sister-in-law, a lustful vicar, a pompous prosthetic salesman, a nubile teenager, her snotty, titled mother and three more characters who either want death, sex or want to know who’s having sex.

Ronni Marshak polishes her perfect comic timing as the maid/narrator, hoovering up laughs at every turn. Michael Tonner is delightful as the hands-on physician whose eyes twinkle like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary. Kate Tonner is deliciously lascivious as mistaken identities bring her blessings in disguise. Michael Corbett as their dim “bleumange” of a son nearly runs away with the show….That is, until, the shy, retiring sister-in-law cuts loose when her ship(ment) comes in. Lorna McKenzie’s transformation from duckling to swan will have you gasping for air she’s so drop dead funny.

In the vicar department, James Laing is so droll and so precisely British that you’ll wonder if they didn’t just import a real man of the cloth. The whole cast sparkles: from Christine Conner’s haughty blue blood to Julia Van Damm’s darling damsel in undress, from Daemeon Pratt’s falls to David Cherenson’s cheek to Michael Legge’s kick. The show is nothing short of a full blown hoot! WICKED wicked FUN!

"Habeas Corpus" (14 September - 4 October)
HOVEY PLAYERS
Abbott Memorial Theatre, 9 Spring Street, WALTHAM, MA
(617) 728-4321

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