Photos Reviews

Hobson's Choice

November 1998

by Harold Brighouse, directed by John Marshall


Maggie, the eldest daughter - Bridget Deasy

Alice, the second daughter - Helen Turner

Vickey, the youngest daughter - Louise Morin

Albert Prosser, solicitor - Andy Parsons

Henry Hobson - Tim Burgess

Mrs Hepworth - Margaret Butt

Tubby Wadlow, foreman - Ben Grimsey

Will Mossop, boothand - Stewart Price

Jim Heeler, grocer - Harold Revill

Ada Figgins - Rose Gander

Fred Beenstock, tradesman - Cass Thorne

Dr MacFarlane - John Palmer

Production Team:

Director - John Marshall

Set designer - Clare Girvan

Production Manager - Margaret Butt

Set construction - Clare Girvan, Ken Vittles, Sylvia Brace, Margaret Butt, Brian Bowker, Cass Thorne, Mike Trout, Ron Murray

Lighting - Stuart Yerrell & Margaret Yerrell

assisted by - Peter King & Peter Tapp

Wardrobe - Isla Morgan

Props - Sylvia Brace & Rose Gander

Prompt - Sheila Wall

Poster design - Clare Girvan

Programme - Philip Jones

Front of House - Lynn Trout.

Publicity - Geoffrey Brace & Rose Gander


From Estuary News:

...Maggie Hobson, the eldest daughter, was superbly played by Bridget Deasy...

There's nowt so queer as folk, especially that lot born wrong side of Pennines, and Estuary Players, in John Marshall's production of Hobson's Choice, gave a very good flavour of how it might have been in Salford in the 1880s. The play is mostly about female uppishness - well, that and more than a touch of male arrogance and bluster. Tim Burgess got Henry Hobson's range of behaviour nicely - careless of others' feelings, obsequious to his betters, sometimes bemused and often outraged by his daughters' bumptiousness, terrified by lawyers and, finally, weak and dependent on the people he'd always taken for granted. That's enough for any actor to be going on with.

The pivotal role, that of Maggie Hobson, the eldest daughter, was superbly played by Bridget Deasy. Watchful, calculating, decisive, Maggie is, in football parlance, the play-maker. She makes Will Mossop too, makes a man of him that is. It's a heartening metamorphosis of the rabbit that first bobs up from his work cellar into the shrewd business-man who turns the tables on his former employer. Stewart Price was lovely as Will, with his blend of diffidence and romantic apprehension manifested as much through body language as words. It was fitting that at the very end of the play his exultant leap in the air was the final action on stage. Of course, he would have got on by attending the local Mechanics' Institute, but that would have been a different play. And some lass was bound to have taken up with him in the end, the way Stewart would have played it.

Essential to the development of these three characters were half-a-dozen intimate others. There were Hobson's two younger daughters, Vicky [who could look pretty AND 'lie like a gas meter'] and Alice, and their beaux - and a right pair of willing lambs they were. Between them these four combine to illuminate further Hobson's mean, distrustful spirit and to display in themselves a touchy awareness of social status. Then there was worried, exploited Tubby, the workshop foreman, and Jim Heeler, who was obviously Hobson's much-too-frequent drinking companion as well as being a source of unpalatable advice on wedding arrangements for uppish daughters. Outside this circle of familiars there were Mrs 'epworth of 'ope 'all, stuck up and accustomed to good service, and Dr McFarlane, obviously trained in a Scottish medical school where 'Kill or Cure' was the motto over the entrance.

The smaller parts were all played effectively, adding colour, idiosyncracy and humour. What passed for a Northern accent - and therefore to a southern audience an acceptable Salford one - was pretty well-sustained and, most pleasingly, there were some delightful bits of business being done outside the central action. Hobson's daughters were good at this and thankfully, there was almost none of that 'standing expressionless waiting for your turn to speak', which is such an affliction of some amateur performances. The staging of the play, involving a team of people in hard work on sets, costumes, props, lighting and so on, contributed to great entertainment for a very good audience. And just down the road from Salford they let women into the pavilion at Old Trafford nowadays. It's all Maggie Hobson's doing, is that!

- Reviewed by: Brian Stephenson


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