23 January to 22 February 2014
Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
This was our first trip to the Octagon Theatre, located in the centre of Bolton. There was plenty of parking in the adjacent multi storey car park and parking was £2 when you pay in the theatre. The theatre itself was slightly unusual in that the small central stage is completely surrounded by seating. The layout of the theatre means that set changes are trickier and therefore the play was split into 3 acts with two intervals to enable the set to be altered. The addition of a second interval works well with this being a long play, about 3 hours including the intervals.
Hobson’s Choice by Harold Brighouse tells the story of a Salford boot maker, Henry Hobson and his three daughters, Maggie, Alice and Vickey. Eldest daughter Maggie, after being told by her father that she was an old maid and too old to marry, decided to take matters into her own hands and marry the working class shoe maker Willie Mossop. This comes as a great surprise to Willie who already has a girlfriend, Maggie does not let this stop her and before we know it Maggie and Willie are married. Maggie then arranges marriages for her two sisters and her father is left to run the shop alone. Without his daughters providing free labour Henry spends more and more time in the local public house. After only a year his business is in tatters and Henry is suffering from ill health and he is forced to turn to Maggie for help.
Maggie, Willie and Henry are played magnificently well by Natalie Grady, Michael Shelford and Maxwell Hutcheon. Whilst all 12 members of the cast were excellent for me Michael Shelford deserves special mention as his portrayal of Willie Mossop was outstanding. The transformation from humble boot maker to middle class business man was depicted well throughout. There was a visible chemistry between Maggie and Willie which kept the audience engaged throughout.
There was plenty of Northern humour throughout the play which meant that the 3 hours flew by. This was an excellent performance and one we would certainly recommend.
Tickets cost from £24 to £9.
For more information or to book tickets visit octagonbolton.co.uk/hobsons-choice.
Photo Credit: Ian Tilton