Hobson's Choice

IAN COLLINS St Edmund's Hall, Southwold


> St Edmund's Hall, Southwold

Hobson's Choice is a saga with a vintage 'sole' - the classic film with Charles Laughton and John Mills still being a staple of midweek TV matinées.

Though only an echo of that classic movie, the staged cobbler's saga kicks off Jill Freud and Company's 22nd summer season in Southwold in Start-rite fashion.

Harold Brighouse's 1915 northern tale follows the bally-hoo when steel-toe-capped Maggie (a neat fit for Louise Milford) crafts a fine shoe from the soft material of labourer Will Mossop (a polished Richard Emerson) by choosing him for a husband.

Her dad - the Hobson of the Choice - is a heel, and a wobbly one at that, with a tendency to topple into cellars after a tipple. This man who has bitten off more than he can chew in trying to rule his daughters is brilliantly played here by Richard Syms.

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Clever Maggie uses wile and guile to get what she wants for herself and her ultimately ungrateful sisters, subtly putting the boot in with an offer father just can't refuse.

Hobson's Choice may creak a little, like really old leather, but it amuses and finally touches in the hands of a well-matched cast.

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