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Hobson’s Choice. November 2009

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Another Guildburys’ triumph

Guildburys were delighted for the first time to be associated with The Rotary Club of Guildford district and the performance on November 4th raised funds for the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice, Guildburys’ charity partners in Farnham.

The performance raised £1500 for the hospice.

The Review of Hobson’s Choice
It was a full house when I joined the audience for “Hobson’s Choice” by Harold Brighouse at the Electric Theatre, Guildford – the Guildbury’s latest production. It is a strong play that has survived numerous interpretations and pivots around Maggie, ‘thirty years old and a bit on the ripe side for marriage’ and her domineering father, Henry. Laura Sheppard, as Maggie, was feisty but with a self-deprecating sense of self; Ian Nichols, as Henry, blustered and cajoled until he is seen as crushed into a form of compliance. Both players tackled their roles with conviction.

There is a third and key component. Willie Mossop (Andrew Donovan) is a reluctant ‘love interest’ – but it is Mossop who is the catalyst for Maggie’s ambition and ultimately that of Henry’s submission too. Under Colin Orbaum’s meticulous direction, Donovan offered a well-observed performance that grew plausibly in stature. The success lay in an unhurried decision to retain Mossop’s diffident beginnings but to carefully mark each step of his journey to successful businessman. The result was pleasantly believable.

This production offered many satisfying moments; Laura Sheppard’s ‘nervousness’ as she confronted her Father, replicating a tremulous voice that gained in power. Ian Nichols’ body posturing as he sought to dominate the family. It was, however, the simple tenderness of the proposal scene that remains with me – two chairs upstage with Maggie and Willie facing out. There could only be one outcome – his bewildered acceptance to her offer of marriage; sensitively directed and beautifully realised.

The final curtain attracted sustained applause from the capacity audience.

Jeff Thomson – Theatre critic Surrey Advertiser

The Electric Theatre Guildford November 4 – 7 2009

Production photographs © Guildburys Phill Griffith

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Published on: November 8th, 2009

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