The second ballet in Birmingham’s Royal Ballet 2019 Summer season opened last night at the Birmingham Hippodrome. Hobson’s Choice was one of David Bintley’s earliest ballets, and is a much loved piece that is rich in heart and personality. A glorious comic piece, based on the classic 1950s film, Hobson’s Choice is a ballet that is strong on laughs and on romance, almost like a Victorian Rom Com where everything turns out fine in the end.
Henry Hobson is the drunken owner of a successful shoe shop. He has three daughters, the eldest being the clever Maggie, who basically organises his business and his life. Younger daughters Alice and Vickey long to be married to their wealthy beaus, but selfish Hobson won’t allow it, needing them to work in his shop so he can continue his life of drunken revelry. When Hobson’s employee, boot hand Will is praised by a wealthy patron, Maggie sees her chance of happiness and love away from her father. But will fate play a hand and lead them all to their happy endings?
As Maggie and Will, Samara Downs and Lachlan Monaghan are just perfect, their courtship dance is funny and tender, clumsy and lovely in equal parts. Lachlan’s shoe dance is athletic brilliance, a real high point, whilst Samara taking the hand on their wedding night is wonderfully amusing. From start to finish their chemistry is perfect.
Jonathan Payne is terrific as the drunken Hobson, particularly in the scene where he disappears down a cellar trap. It is a very visual role and Payne is perfect in it, raising the laughs despite the fact he is a fairly despicable bullying figure. Laura Purkiss and Delia Matthews are also very good in their roles as the high spirited and snobbish sisters, their shock at seeing Maggie in the park with Will is a joy to behold. Matthias Dingman and Rory Mackay also add to the comic proceedings as their suitors.
Special mention must be made to the wonderful sets, which conveyed the mood and the spirit of Victorian London, and to the scene with the Salvation Army, which was just lovely.
Hobson’s Choice is a real crowd pleaser, a lovely, spirited story with the perfect happy ending. A joy from start to finish.
Birmingham Royal Ballet – Hobson’s Choice
A classic of our time.
Thu 20 Jun – Sat 22 Jun
Tickets from £16
Click here for ticket information