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Samara Downs as Maggie Hobson and Lachlan Monaghan as Will Mossop with, in the rear, Laura Purkiss (obscured), as Vicky Hobson, Delia Metthews as Alice Hobson and Rory Mackay as Albert Prosser.

Picture: Bill Cooper

Hobson’s Choice

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome


I should probably start this review with an admission – I have never watched live ballet before.

Thus, this can be rightly considered a layman’s ballet review; I cannot say with any great expertise nor conviction what the technique was like, whether the choreography passed muster or indeed whether it is an improvement on previous productions of Hobson’s Choice.  

Therefore, what is left to review? Quite simply, you are left with the basest response of critical appraisal – how it made me feel, was it enjoyable and whether I thought it was actually any good.

Hobson’s choice just makes you feel lovely. The majestic score from Lancastrian Paul Reade – he of Antiques Roadshow and T

 fame - sweeps you along, giving it an almost cinematic feel. Played beautifully by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, it has a really special feel to it.

The dancing is beautifully balanced with the silent acting – with both complementing each other perfectly. The acting never feeling forced and the ballet never feeling out of place.   

As an introduction to ballet, for me at least, it was perfect. The period style and the fact it is a comedy makes it incredibly easy to enjoy and the two interval structure meant that you were never starting to get fidgety in your seat.  

It feels like a very English ballet, if that makes sense. What little ballet I have seen on television almost seems exotic (even the Cbeebies Three Little Pigs seemed mystical) whereas this feels like it is more homely, with a good dose of northern cynicism t’boot.

It has humour, pathos and hope. There is a comfort to it which is hard to explain – I suppose because it is a piece with heart, built on love, aspiration and optimism.

The cast are fantastic, with special mention to Lachlan Monaghan as Will Mossop, Samara Downs as Maggie Hobson and Rory Mackay as Albert Prosser.

The staging (design Hayden Griffin) is both clever and varied with many different scenes and a multitude of ways of bringing them to the stage.

The production is a celebration of its creator and choreographer, David Bintley as he enters his final season as director of Birmingham Royal Ballet. It is testament to the quality of Hobson’s Choice that, since it’s premiere in 1989, it has remained untouched – save for the reintroduction of a second interval.

A tale of female empowerment the people are given their own Hobson’s choice – to go to watch it or not. This is a ballet with wit, wisdom and warmth – for me, the choice is simple . . . watch it if you can.  To 22-06-19.

Theo Clarke


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