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

Event Listings alt

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

Related video alt

Most read this monthalt

  • LeftLion Magazine #60
    With Stuart Pearce, Shaun Derry, Sleaford Mods, Gallery 47, Lenton Flats, Soul Buggin', DiY, D'Israeli, Ross Noble and more...
  • Doing it for DiY
    Legendary Notts free-party collective DiY threw a 25th birthday at the weekend. At their expense. As ever. Then someone robbed them. LeftLion asks if you can help
  • Brief history of Gunn Crime
    An overview of the criminal careers of Bestwood Cartel leaders and 'Godfathers' of Nottingham gang crime, Colin and David Gunn
  • DiY Soundsystem
    We look back at the history behind the legendary free party collective who celebrate their 25th birthday this year
  • Left Brian: September
    "For the first time in recent memory we’ve got a genuine Forest hero and legend in charge, a man who the fans would happily follow through the Gates of Hell if he said it was the right thing to do"
  • Five Reasons Why Grandmaster Flash Changed The Game
    The man who introduced the medium of hip hop to the mainstream will grace the stage of Nottingham this Sunday at The Approach
  • Live: Sleaford Mods
    "They are a breath of fresh air. Jason is simply describing a world that we all inhabit and can relate to"
  • Hot Japanese Girl
    "I ended up spitting beer in our guitarist’s face, and at the end of the song he just took off his guitar and hit me on the back with it"
  • Music Venue Accessibility
    We spoke to Rob Maddison of local band Spaceships Are Cool about the ups and downs of rolling to gigs and festivals
  • People's March for the NHS
    "History will remember those who betrayed the NHS and those who fought to save it. Be on the right side of history"

LeftLion on Facebook

 

Ads by Google