Choice pickings for St Albans theatre company

SOMETIMES the Company of Ten comes up with a production that is so professional you find it hard to believe you are watching amateur theatre. And that is very much the case with the current production, Hobson s Choice, which is delighting audiences at the

SOMETIMES the Company of Ten comes up with a production that is so professional you find it hard to believe you are watching amateur theatre.

And that is very much the case with the current production, Hobson's Choice, which is delighting audiences at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

The play, set in the early part of the twentieth century, could feel dated but it doesn't because the personality traits of the characters are all recognisable, from the bullying paterfamilias Henry Hobson to the bossy daughter Maggie and her put-upon swain Willie Mossop.

Roger Bartlett, known to Company of Ten audiences for his performances on stage and his guidance with many effective fight scenes, makes his directorial debut with Hobson's Choice and he deserves to take a bow along with the cast.


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He has managed to avoid the trap of making it just a period piece and has created a touching, funny and enjoyable production to appeal to all ages.

He is helped in no small measure by an exceptional cast who all clearly enjoy their roles and put blood, sweat and tears into their performances.

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George Edkins is the dictatorial and hard-drinking patriarch Henry Horatio Hobson who bullies two of his daughters but meets his match in his oldest girl Maggie.

And it is Maria Giliberti's performance as Maggie which is the highlight of the production - she is confident and assured in the role and her northern accent is faultless.

Maria is at her best with her unwitting spouse-to-be Willie Mossop, a fine performance by Julian Wathen, and her metamorphosis from strong-willed older daughter to compliant wife is a hoot.

Helen Miller as Alice Hobson and Lucy Crick as Vickey Hobson and their respective swains Lester J. Adams as Albert Prosser and Alex Bell as Freddy Beenstock are perfect foils for the main characters.

And the remainder of the cast, which includes a fine comic performance from Tim Hoyle as Tubby Wadlow, are all very impressive and completely in tune with the comic timing required for their roles.

As is invariably the case with main stage productions by the Company of Ten, the two sets are excellent, particularly Hobson's Boot Shop. Set designer David Briscoe and his team must have been inspired.

The Abbey Theatre was full to the rafters for Hobson's Choice on Saturday and performances have been selling well. Any remaining tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861.

MADELEINE BURTON

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