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Review: Hobsons Choice
Adhoc Theatre Company, The Pound Arts Centre, Corsham.
This famous oddball of a play about gender politics and bootmaking in 1880's Salford must have caused quite a stir in 1915. Nearly a century on, Ad Hoc's well-judged, energetic version drew standing ovations last week at The Pound. Playwright Harold Brighouse was not fit to go to war, but in this play he went to war on class and the suppression of women, through this unusual drama. An 'old maid' defies the expectations of her family, and faced with an uncomfortable choice between suppression and ridicule, manages her destiny to the benefit of all around her. The central couple - 30 year old Maggie Hobson (Abigail Newton) Will Mossop, and a seemingly gormless shoemaker in her father's shop, (Jeremy Fowlds) - make a journey into self-respect which was was by turns funny and deeply touching. But in the excellent Ad Hoc tradition, the whole cast directed by Jenny Lane worked as a team to give performances which were convincing and humorous. The heavy father (Charles Garrett) and his drinking companion Albert Prosser, (Elliot Davis) showed just how deeply embedded the horror of any female 'uppishness'
was in this society. Maggie's younger sisters, Alice and Vickey (Cassandra Smith and Rebecca Wheatley-Stokes), were more or less trapped in the system, and they learn to stop giggling at Maggie and Will and show respect. These characters could well have been cliches, but the skilful direction brought out their humanity without losing the humour. Graham Randle's unfussy but effective sets made great use of the intimate space of the Pound's stage. A deeply satisfying night of theatre all round.