Hobson's Choice

12/02/2008

Adrian Bhagat went to see Hobson's Choice


John Savident and Judith Paris in Hobson's ChoiceJohn Savident (Fred Elliott in Coronation Street) has had plenty of practice playing fat, borish Mancunians and he puts this to good use as the lead in Hobson's Choice. Henry Hobson is a prosperous boot shop owner in 1880's Salford. His days are spent pontificating to his three daughters and spending long lunches in the Moonraker Inn. However, he has a problem: his daughters are increasingly showing signs of "uppishness" and he feels the need to reassert his authority.

Thinking that the threat of being married off will keep them in order, he decides that the youngest two should be got rid of (His eldest daughter, Maggie, being 30 years old, is an old maid and besides, she is too useful as a bookkeeper). The plans come to nothing when the penny-pinching Hobson realises he will have to pay a dowry and will lose his unpaid shopworkers.

Maggie notices that Willie Mossop, a shy, uneducated man who works below stairs, is a very skilful boot-maker. Spotting a business opportunity and having no regard for sentiment or convention she tells Willie that they are to marry. Willie is at first shocked, then fearful, then resigned as he is overcome by Maggie's insistence. The objections of her father and sisters and Willie's fiancée are similarly conquered. 

John Savident in Hobson's ChoiceMaggie and Willie leave Hobson's to set up in competition. Lacking any money, they struggle at first but soon they have stolen all the respectable trade, attracted by Willie's excellent boots. Maggie arranges an elaborate trick to force her father to allow her sisters to marry their fancy men. Left alone, Hobson takes to drink and his business is in tatters. Maggie knows she has to help him, but she does so without pity. Rather, she hatches a plan to make her husband the boss of Hobson's business.

When first produced in 1916 this was probably quite a shocking, though timely, play because of the reversal of gender rôles, although decency is restored towards the end when the now educated and confident Willie decides that he should wear the trousers. The family rifts and bossy women are no longer offensive even to the older generation, making this the sort of pleasant comedy you can take your Nana to see without cringing every time someone swears. The sauciest moment is when Willie settles down to sleep on the sofa on his wedding night and Maggie has to lead him by the ear to the bedroom but most of the good laughs come from Savident's skilful double-takes and contorted expressions.


Hobson's Choice runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 16th February 2008

 

 

Share this article



Ads by Google


Comments


comments powered by Disqus

Share Tools

Go to comments Read comments and make your own

LeftLion Magazine

Read our entire archive online

LeftLion Magazine
more info

Most read this monthalt

  • LeftLion Magazine #64
    With Shelter Point, Aisling Loftus, Dawn of the Unread, Grey Hairs, City of Football, Ada Lovelace, Time To Talk, Philip George, DJ Blender and more
  • Au Revoir, Psycho
    "He gave us twelve years. We gave him six months"
  • Depression - Time to Talk Day
    "Having a bad stomach will get you a few days off work, where people with mental illness are expected to get on with it"
  • Dawn of the Unread and Illiteracy in UK Kids
    "How do you engage modern readers obsessed with their phones? What happens when taste is dictated by supermarkets?"
  • Get Creative Launches
    Nottingham is booming when it comes to creative events, from multi-million pound galleries to grassroots spaces
  • A Canadian at London 2012
    "I want to lose myself in the joyous atmosphere of the world’s middle class getting together to cheer on its fastest and best at throwing heavy objects"
  • Notts What I Call Music Vol. 2 - Submissions Open
    Calling all Notts musicians. Want your music on the 2015 'Best of Notts' compilation from LeftLion?
  • UNESCO City of Literature: Lord Byron
    "His open shirt, pale skin and dark curling hair set hearts fluttering. Byron fell in love often and from a very early age"
  • Nottingham Forest Ladies FC
    "I think there'll come a day when the professional woman won't have to have a part-time job to sustain her football career"
  • Left Brian: January
    "Having a boss who speaks open and honestly with the fans, cares as much as we do, and ultimately is one of our own, is as sweet as can be"

Event Listings alt

There aren't any tickets available for sale. view all events

Related video alt

LeftLion on Facebook

 

Ads by Google