Review: Lincoln Company at Riverhead Theatre

It had been many years since I had seen a farce but The Lincoln Company’s production of Alan Bennet’s play Habeas Corpus reminded me what good fun they could be.

The obvious enthusiasm of the cast increased the enjoyment considerably.

From the moment the character of Mrs Swab appeared on stage, played by the extremely entertaining Laurence Grunbaum, the audience was engaged. Mrs Swabb introduced the characters who all, over the course of the production, really came to life in their pursuit of happiness through sexual liberation.

The knowing comments and witty asides of Mrs Swabb kept the action moving along throughout the production.

The voluptuous, sexually repressed Mrs Wickstead was brilliantly played by Rebecca Mann. The transformation of her sister-in-law Connie (played by Natasha Nicholls) from mousey girl to sensual woman was very cleverly portrayed.

Dr Wicksteed (Jospeh Pope) and Sir Percy Shorter (Edward Fisher) are longing for the elusive joys of long ago encounters, Young Dennis Wicksteed (Stuart Scott) and Cannon Throbbing (Alex Halsall) eagerly anticipating their first sexual experience.

Ex-Colonial Lady Rumpers (Gina Radford) and her daughter Felicity (Julia Curry) movingly demonstrating the downside of the permissive society. Attention seeking, suicidal Mr Perdue (Shane Humberstone) and confused sales representative Mr Shanks (Thomas Cliff) added to the fun and linked the main characters.

The sparse set was complemented by evocative photo shots projected onto the stage and contemporary music. Alan Bennet’s brilliant dialogue was supplemented with modern day references which worked well.

Throughout the show many trousers were dropped, as would be expected of farce. There was a rather long dance sequence which I did not feel worked very well, I was not sure if it was the end of the play and I should be applauding. Luckily I did not clap because no one else did at that point. The final few lines of dialogue were eventually delivered and then the audience rightly burst into applause. A very enjoyable and funny performance.