Saturday, 25 June 2011

Hobson's Choice

I had an excellent evening yesterday at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield for a performance of Harold Brighouse's 'Hobson's Choice'. I have to confess that I'd heard about the play for a while, and had read some very good reviews of the current Sheffield production, but was unaware of the story, so took the opportunity to catch the play before its run comes to an end this weekend. From the stage set as we walked into the theatre it was clear that (as I said to my wife) 'it's about a shoe shop'. But it's about more than that. It's a 'rags to riches' tale, a story of womanly wiles, and, as some have pointed out, somewhat akin to Cinderella.

The audience at the Crucible, for those who don't know the place, is set around three sides of the stage, which presents challenges to the actors and the set designers. This challenge was risen to in this production: the diction was clear and the story well played. The sets were sparse but effective: Hobson's shop, Mossop's cellar, and Hobson's living room brought to life with effortless ease; and the acting first rate.

Particular note must be made of the performances of the leading actors: Philip McGinley, Zoe Waites and Barrie Rutter, who related the story with enthusiasm and aplomb; and of the direction of Christopher Luscombe. Together they created a wonderfully warm, enjoyable, laugh-out-loud, entertaining evening. Well done to you all.