Hobson's Choice

Date 21st November 2012
Society Jewish Theatre Group Manchester
Venue Paragon Arts Centre
Type of Production Period Comedy
Director Arden Sills

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

First of all, I loved the simple and minimalist set design which instantly reinvented this classic drama for a modern audience. The wooden diamond stage not only looked great, it was clever as it brought the action forward - in front of the Proscenium Arch - which worked in the plays favour bringing us and the action closer together.

Deborah Finley gave a modest performance as Maggie Hobson, she didn’t play the traditional Maggie I’d expected, no fiery personality or stern manner from her, we got a calm-natured and dare I say, friendlier Maggie!

Deborah’s approach added a fresh slant to the role which worked while also looking at the character in a whole new light, particularly with the manipulation technique to turn any situation to her favour. A subtle and (if you’re familiar with the play) a thought-provoking interpretation which ultimately paid off!

Howard Yaffe as Willy Mossop gave us a pleasant and easy performance. Howard had some lovely moments with the right amount of chuckles! Mossop is one of those parts that can easily be over-played for the laughs, Howard slightly underplayed this humble and old-world character which added charm. Physically, the insecure glimpses of Frank Spencer coming through worked really nicely and were perfectly appropriate.

The oddest statement in this production for me, which cannot be ignored, was Leo Adelman’s interpretation of Fred Beenstock. This characterisation did not work for me on any level, his delivery was far too caricature which was not consistent with the other performers and his presentation did not fit with the nature of the piece. The farcical walk and bogus accent was not relevant to the character- leaving me (and several other audience members) completely baffled!

Alice & Vicky Hobson played by Katie Addelstone & Safi Korn were both presented with adequacy, there was room to make the characters a little more interesting to take them up to the next level but that is no great loss to these performances which were both confident and suited.

Direction by Arden Sills was very strong in parts. Ultimately, the characterisation of Fred is my biggest bug bare of this production which, at the end of the day, is the Directors responsibility. A lot of the players delivered up stage and at times - particularly during the doctor’s scene - we saw the players pacing around the space without reason, giving an uneasy sense of the actors needing something to do. The Coronation Street kick off was a great start to the piece but the EastEnders ‘duff duff’ (as it’s known) was perhaps a step too far! On the other hand; the set, the presentation and whole vision of the play was faultless, fresh and extremely inspiring which is so rare and not often seen on the amateur circuit, congratulations for this!

The man with no option, Henry Hobson - a very likable and bubbly interpretation by Jonathan Berg. This role is on most thespians wish list of parts to accomplish in their lifetime and Jonathan did a creditable job. We got all the right light and shade moments from him, Jonathan brought all the ingredients together to achieve an accomplished performance to be more than pleased with.

Congratulations JTC for a well presented production, a very enjoyable evening and of course, your gracious hospitality!