Triumph of the underdog?

HOBSONS CHOICE, a classic comedy of social distinctions if ever there was on, got the Falcon Players off to a happy start for their 1989-90 season at the Stanford Hall, near Loughborough.

Harold Brighouse's gritty play, set in 19th century Salford, captures the feeling of an age which was on the turn as women began to rebel against domestic bondage. There is a genial humour from the status quo with old man Hobson's pomposities and the twitterings of his younger daughters. But the play looks forward to a brighter future when a man like Willy Mossop may be judged on his ability not his background.

hobsonHobson's Choice charts the emergence of Mossop the underdog against the entrenched pride and prejudice of the wealthy bourgeoisie; always a successful stage plot. It also shows the 30-year-old daughter who seizes her chance for marital and business ambition by whisking away the socially challenged bootboy from her father's shop. She sets the pair of them up in business, firmly ruling Willy while paying him the deference due to a husband in the late Victorian times.

Bill Pritchard's production brought a change of fare for the Falcon Players; still satisfying their policy for comedy but offering stronger meat than usual.

Keith Hague provided most of the humour as the widower torn between his instincts to rid himself from the covert domination of his uppity daughters and his middle class (and proud of it) recognition of cheap labour. He provided futile opposition ti Maggie (Jane Thomas twinned with Margaret Hamilton) who steel-willed multiple marriages and events like an RSM on parade.

Miss Thomas made Maggie hard-working but didn't quite achieve the balance of relationship with Willy in the last act which comed from Maggie knowing that she owes her husband a debt of gratitude as great as he owes her.

Jill Ewen and Kathy Phillips gave attractive performances as the younger daughters: one all sulks and flounce, the other cool and arch. Mike Jones and Phil Taylor were their respectable husbands-to-be from law and business - not to be confused with "trade".

The Times