REVIEW: Hobson’s Choice

Martin Shaw as Henry Hobson in Hobson's Choice. Picture: Nobby Clark ANL-160203-155704001

Martin Shaw as Henry Hobson in Hobson's Choice. Picture: Nobby Clark ANL-160203-155704001

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Hobson’s Choice, Theatre Royal Norwich

Telly favourite Martin Shaw stars in this delicious and biting romantic comedy written in 1916 but set in Victorian times. Based in Salford, it has a more serious core as the study of the fading class system and the rise of the Suffragette movement.

Self-made Henry Horatio Hobson (Shaw) may run a successful business but he’s a drunken bully who doesn’t realise the value of his hard working daughters who he dismisses as ‘uppity’.

You can sense his downfall from early on!

It’s a highly amusing journey as he meets his Waterloo – his Hobson’s Choice (take it or leave it) – as the brains of his family, his eldest daughter Maggie, beautifully played by Naomi Frederick, out smarts him at every turn. She takes up with the shy yet talented shoe maker Willie Mossop, played by Bryan Dick, and basically sets up a rival business.

The couple are well supported by the strong cast which also includes a cameo role by another TV star, Christopher Timothy.

The play is a wonderful exploration of sexual politics, has plenty of banter and is delivered in a really fresh, contemporary way. It races along at a fair lick and I thoroughly enjoyed it – well, a bit of girl power does us all good!

It has just won a London transfer, too, so well done all round.

Hobson’s Choice runs until Saturday, visit wwww.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Sarah Hardy