Pros: Extremely strong cast in a very well-executed drama.
Cons: The show is only on for a week!
Harold Brighouse’s classic play has enjoyed an enduring success since its debut in 1916. From Broadway to a London ballet, this tale of family life, love, and all the chaos in between seems to have no bounds to its versatility, and continues to entertain in this new amateur production.
Henry Horatio Hobson, widower and proud owner of his Salford boot shop is the epitome of the self-made Victorian man. The only stains on his respectable reputation are his three daughters, who, while helping him run the business (which he chooses to ignore in favour of the local pub), amount to nothing more than a nuisance. The only way he can keep a lid on their ‘bumptiousness’ is to marry them off, a scheme that is doomed from the start.
For those with a liking for strong female leads, Hobson’s Choice is sure to appeal. For its time it is remarkably forward thinking regarding women’s rights and it is refreshing to see female roles that are both funny and powerful by their own merit. Maggie Hobson, the eldest of the three daughters and invaluable to her father, takes charge of her own life, and consequently everyone else’s, without a flicker of fear. While a character such as Maggie could become unpleasantly obnoxious, Gemma-May Bowles’ brilliant portrayal makes her nothing short of impressive, and by the end of the play you are glad to have seen her succeed. Alongside her is the endearingly timid William Mossop, Maggie’s husband of choice, played by a quivering Oliver Jones. Their partnership, which at first was purely comical, develops into an inspiring and moving portrayal of marriage, humbly preaching the value of hard work, perseverance, and faith.
While the South London Theatre is a little out of the way from central London, their high quality productions are worth the travel, and there is always the added appeal of visiting a converted theatre for those curious drama lovers. Once a fire station, the building itself is quite impressive, and although the auditorium is tiny, it serves to create a great atmosphere, specially when blessed with a good audience (as it was on this performance).
Overall the production was extremely well made, with convincing costumes and simple but effective set design, all coming together to make for a very engrossing play. With no significant faults except for the sadly short booking time, Hobson’s Choice is definitely worth catching while you can.
Author: Harold Brighouse
Director: Stephanie Urquhart
Producer: South London Theatre
Booking Until: 8th March 2014
Box Office: 020 8670 3474
Booking Link: http://www.southlondontheatre.co.uk/newSLT