TITLE: Hobson's Choice
PLAYWRIGHT: Harold Brighouse
PERFORMANCE DATES: 14th - 16th November 2019
DIRECTOR: Ken Davison
Henry Horatio Hobson - Bob Wells
Maggie Hobson (his oldest daughter) - Nicki Clay
Alice Hobson (his daughter) - Pat Davison
Vickey Hobson (his daughter) - Julia Birkett
Timothy (Tubby) Wadlow - Ian Gledhill
William Mossop (Maggie’s conquest) - Trevor Britain
Albert Prosser (a lawyer) - Rhodri Jones
Fred Beenstock - Gary Bateson
Mrs. Hepworth (a wealthy customer) - Jill Pearson
Jim Heeler - Alan Rome
Dr Macfarlane - Andrew Faulkes
A shoemaker, Henry Hobson, has three daughters: Maggie, Alice and Vickey. The daughters work in the shop unpaid. Hobson spends his time drinking with the fellow members of the masons at the Moonrakers pub.
One day, Mrs Hepworth, a rich customer of Hobson, demands to know who made her boots: it is Hobson's underpaid bootmaker, Will Mossop. She insists that all her and her daughters' boots must from now on be made by Will, and tells him to inform her if ever he should leave Hobson's. Maggie, who is a talented businesswoman and considered too old and plain to marry, proposes marriage to Will. Will reluctantly agrees. When Hobson comes back, she tells him that she intends to marry Will, but he laughs at her, and threatens to beat Will for courting her. At this, Will leaves the shop, and Maggie goes with him. They borrow £100 from Mrs Hepworth, set up a shop on their own, and marry as soon as the banns of marriage have been called.
A month later, Hobson falls into the warehouse belonging to the father of Fred Beenstock, Vickey's love. Maggie comes back to tell her sisters that she is going to marry them off herself. Hobson has refused to settle any money on them, without which they are unlikely to find decent husbands. With the help of lawyer Albert Prosser, Alice's love, they issue a writ claiming damages from Hobson for trespass, damage to corn sacks and spying on trade secrets. Hobson eventually agrees to pay, the money is settled on the girls and they can now get married.
Thanks to Will's skill as a bootmaker and Maggie's business acumen, their shop is very successful and, within a year, they have taken nearly all of Hobson's trade. Hobson is almost bankrupt and drinking himself to death. After an attack of delirium tremens, he asks each of his daughters to look after him. They all refuse, but eventually Maggie agrees to do so provided that Will takes over his business, with Hobson remaining as a sleeping partner only.
CHAIR’S PRODUCTION NOTES
Some of our more avid followers will notice this is a change to our planned production of Noises Off. Unfortunately, this is being performed professionally elsewhere so we were unable to obtain permission to perform at this time. Keep watching this space…it will happen!
Hobson’s Choice was director Ken’s choice (get it?) and apparently on his bucket list of plays to direct. The only problem (again) was a lack of available men. Ken, whilst thinking of a Plan C, sent a search party to scour the length and breadth of York and Selby; thankfully his and others’ efforts paid off. They found three men!!!
So, at this juncture I would like to extend a very warm welcome to our latest victims...sorry, members: Rhodri Jones, Trevor Britain and Ian Gledhill.
Hobson’s Choice is our 52nd production and has been an enjoyable rehearsal process which started early in September with a character workshop. Normally our directors would take a seat in the audience and enjoy their efforts, however you will find Ken stationed somewhere behind the lighting desk (his safe place).
Our next production in May 2020 is Steel Magnolias - so no chance of a shortage of men (it has an all-female cast for those unfamiliar with it). All auditionees will be practising their Louisiana accents I’m sure!
Thank you as always to our sponsors and wonderful audience for your continued patronage - and a long overdue thank you to our ever so patient partners!
FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR
A couple of years ago I volunteered to produce another play this Autumn, one which the group loved but did have the slight disadvantage of needing a revolving stage. We do like to take on a challenge in Escrick, but that was going to be asking too much. For some time, I insisted it wasn’t technically possible for us to do – so when I had a stray conversation about how door hinges actually worked – the penny dropped about how we might pull it off. I felt duty bound to direct, having poured copious amounts of cold water over the idea for so long. We were all set to go, only to find the licence wasn’t available as the play was on in London!
So, we had to find something else and Hobson’s Choice has always been a favourite of mine. A bit like Catch 22, it’s all about the impact of the choices we make. None of them may particularly lead to a ‘right answer’.
It was originally produced in 1916 and was set in 1880, so it was a time of social change in light of the First World War, when women’s roles were changing. Of course, every generation goes through this with the older generation marking how things have changed since they were young. It also gently challenges the established social order, looking at how people move up – and down – in society.
So, it’s been a challenge getting Hobson’s Choice into production. But once we were settled the cast were marvellous and really committed and the back-stage crew (who I’m trying to rebrand as the Stagecraft Team) have been very organised and supportive, as always.
I shall share that another of my favourites is The Woman in Black, which requires three characters, one of whom is non speaking. I did feel at one stage it might have been an easier option!
Photos taken by Nancy Waters