ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

HOBSON’S CHOICE by Harold Brighouse Director: Tony Turner Knutsford Little Theatre Harold Brighouse’s 1916 comedy, Hobson’s Choice, is “as well made as a pair of Hobson’s stout boots”. It is a portrait of a middle-class, prosperous Salford boot maker with Victorian values. Set in 1880 there are changes ahead for Hobson brought about by the “upishness” of his three daughters. Brighouse was a modernist of his time: this play, with its social subtext, is proof of that. The scenery locates the action from the Hobson’s shop to Maggie and Willie’s cellar cum shop, and the parlour of Hobson’s shop. All was achieved with the minimum of set dressing. We learn so much about characters by their surroundings, what they say and how they are dressed. Costumes were in the Victorian style; a little more detail would have added to the dramatic impression. The lighting and sound gave clarity to the productions. A strong cast was gathered to lift the words off the pages. We first meet Hobson’s daughters. Alice, played by Hannah Peters, who delightfully depicted a fashionable young Victorian woman. Hannah made it clear Alice and her sister, Vickey, were one when it came to standing up to their father and older sister, Maggie. Young Vickey was so well captured by Cheryl Chamberlain. Vickey at first does not have the confidence of Alice, but we see her change to become equal to her sister. Cheryl grew into the character making the role her own. The girl’s suitors, Albert Prosser and Freddy Beenstock were truthfully portrayed by Pete Blain and Ian Beighton. Their characters were being moulded by their sweethearts / wives which was a nice contrast to the “uppity” Hobson. Between the two girls and the two boys there was nice interplay as they teased out the humour of women dominating men.