HOBSON’S CHOICE; Birmingham Royal Ballet Touring

Birmingham Royal Ballet (Choreography David Bintley)
Runs: 2h 35, two intervals
Birmingham Hippodrome till 25 02 12
Touring info www.brb.org.uk

Review: Alexander Ray, Birmingham Hippodrome, 22 02 12

A comforting treat beautifully dancedBirmingham Royal Ballet’s HOBSON’S CHOICE is beautifully danced; it’s a comforting show which also demonstrates a gentle and warm humour. This loving retelling, in dance, of the Brighouse’s play has, in the characters of Willie and Maggie, surprisingly subtle (and beautiful) character depths.

I have one caveat – which I’ll get out of the way first. I find the staging, with its frequent use of a front cloth, restricting space for dancers, old fashioned. The front cloth moments either signal pressure of the need to tell the story or fill in gaps while scenery is changed. The rhythm falters and the production is in danger of looking cheap.

This production, though, is so well served by Robert Parker and Elisha Willis (Willie Mossop, Hobson’s bootmaker assistant, and Maggie, Hobson’s eldest daughter.). Parker switches easefully from the gauche to the confident and Willis from the hard to the feminine. In their duets it’s gorgeous to watch Maggie watching Willie, and then to see her coax him into dance, gently leading him and enabling him, second by second, to take the lead.

Paul Reade’s score complements the warmth and wit of the show perfectly. No more so than when he incorporates well known tunes. The culmination at the wedding breakfast is LILLY OF LAGUNA. Willie and Maggie dance for their guests, and the moment is truly magical.

HOBSON’S is a delightful fusion of dance styles from classical aesthetic to folk, and Willie’s wonderful clog-dance in Act I would have graced any Music Hall stage (and still would, did they still exist.)

A show to warm the cockles of your heart.

Henry Hobson: David Morse
Maggie Hobson: Elisha Willis
Vickey Hobson: Carol-Anne Millar
Fred Beanstock: Matthew Lawrence
Albert Prosser: Jonathan Payn
Alice Hobson: Victoria Marr
Mrs Hepworth: Mar5ion Tait
Will Mossop: Robert Parker
Salvation Army: Laetitia Lo Sardo, Angela Paul, Nao Sakuma, Jospeh Caley, Tau-Chao Chou, Tyrone Singleton
Jim Heeler: Kit Holder
Sam Minns: Oliver Till
Mr Tudsbury: Rory Mackay
Dr Macfarlane: William Bracewell

Choreography: David Bintley
Music: Paul Reade
Designs: Hayden Griffin
Lighting: John B Read

2012-02-23 21:46:15

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