Tonight was a spectacular opening performance of Hobsons Choice and is certainly one not to miss.
Henry Horatio Hobson, a domineering old goat, played by Mark Benton, runs a bootmaker’s shop in Salford. Whilst the original play by Harold Brighouse, and the 1954 film starring Charles Laughton were set in the nineteenth century, this stage adaptation, directed by Nadia Fall, cleverly sets itself in the 1960s, as we quickly learn from the opening song and dance from the main characters. Kudos to Nadia Fall for this change of era.
Hobson is a widower, but also a raging alcoholic who maintains strict discipline over his three daughters. Whilst he initially intends for the younger two of the three to be married off, the expense of a settlement to potential suitors soon puts him off the idea. He considers his oldest daughter, Maggie, played by Jodie McNee, too old at 30.
After a visit from a well-to-do customer enquiring who made her shoes, Maggie soon realises that their star boot-maker, Will Mossop, played by Karl Davies, is worth investing her future in. A shy Will soon resigns himself to Maggie’s superior will and they embark to marry and set up their own business.
Legal trouble for Hobson ensue’s after falling into a cellar, and Maggie sets out to use this to ensure her two siblings are matched up with their chosen partners too.
The play’s setting at Regents Park Open Air Theatre was magnificent. A rotating stage cleverly allowed each scene to unfold. The sixties costumes and a few well-known sixties tunes thrown-in-to-boot helped set the era. Mark Benton’s portrayal of Hobson was superb, and up there with Charles Laughton’s depiction of the character in the film. The play brought us plenty of comedy moments, delivered superbly by an excellent cast, especially from our main characters played by Benton and McNee.
The play brought us plenty of comedy moments, delivered superbly by an excellent cast, especially from our main characters played by Benton and McNee.