ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

In Hobson’s emporium, running the workshop is Tubby Wadlow played by Ian Graham who embodied the role. Tubby is mainly used to show the deterioration of Hobson’s business. Customer Mrs Hepworth, and Mossop’s girlfriend, Ada Figgins, were both played by Lydia Gray. These were both undemanding roles, but Lydia gave them grace and dignity, which was important to the sub text of class distinction. Hobson’s “Moonrakers” boozing companion and advisor on marriage and dowries is Jim Heeler steadfastly played by Richard Basger. A lifestyle of pleasure finally catches up with Hobson and Dr MacFarlane has to be called. Darren Colquhoun-Million delivered his lines with feeling and commitment as he tells Hobson the drinking has to stop. All this disruption comes about when Maggie decides bootmaker, Willie Mossop, is to be her man (more class barriers broken). Samuel GlydeRees had an ability to bear all as the uneducated master cobbler, Mossop. Willie’s metamorphosis was skilfully conveyed. The final scene where Willie, with his newly found confidence, delivers Hobson his choice was memorable. “Well, by gum!” Mike Wilding took on the Herculean task of conveying all the many facets of Hobson. The character is so well written that the actor has to be careful not to get too comfortable with the role; discipline is needed at all times. Maggie is the puppeteer and manipulator, a woman ahead of her time. Harriet Henry, after a slightly slow start, soon got into her stride. Harriet gave a credible portrayal of this class–conscious businesswoman. Her scenes with Willie were very tender in contrast to those with her father. The highlight of the production was act three in Willie and Maggie’s cellar shop. There was a dramatic edge to the whole scene. Hobson’s ranting when caught in Maggie’s trap, and his description of solicitors, was worth the ticket price. The direction was clear and focused and tightly packaged although maybe a little short on detail. There was plenty of pace and the presentation contained solid performances, supporting roles, and excellent ensemble playing.