By Harold Brighouse
4 - 9 December, 2017
Set in Salford Manchester in 1880, it's central character is Henry Hobson, owner of the long established Hobson Boots and Shoes. He is secure in the knowledge that nothing will happen to change his life- until it does. This comedy is based around the battle of wills between Hobson and his daughter Maggie. Maggie defies Hobson by marrying his most talented worker - the timid and downtrodden Will. She helps Will to develop his potential and together they turn the tables on Hobson.
Hobson’s Choice was originally produced in America in 1916 with a London production following the same year. The play is set in the 1880s but, like
all classic plays, it has been given a variety of settings over the years: the Broadway musical treatment in 1966, an Anglo-Asian adaptation set in 2003
Salford, and an Open Air production set in the 1960’s. There has also been a ballet and of course David Lean’s 1954 black and white film version.
As a Lancashire man, born and brought up in Salford, it was natural for Harold Brighouse to set his play there. However, while I would not wish to update the
play, I decided to bring this production closer to home, setting it in Pudsey; I apologise to anyone who is offended.
Hobson’s Choice has proved an established favourite over the years with its presentation of the alcoholic, tightfisted widower, Henry Hobson, with his three “uppish” daughters. The two youngest have beaux they would like to marry, but Hobson is too mean to stump up a dowry; in any case he knows his shop will grind to a halt without them, particularly his eldest daughter, Maggie. When the no-nonsense Maggie takes things into her own hands and sets up a rival business with his best employee he is faced with no choice but to acquiesce – it is indeed a matter of “Hobson’s choice”. Hobson knows his time has passed and indeed the play anticipated many of the class and gender upheavals to come.
With three different sets required the play has presented challenges to our Set Designer and Workshop team. I would like to thank them for their magnificent efforts as well as the whole Production team and the Cast. They have all been a joy to work with.