Saturday, April 14th, 2012
TAKE a family from Lancashire in the north of England. Add their boot shop business, employees, customers and friends. Throw in a few parallels to Cinderella and King Lear.

What do you get? Hobson’s Choice, an ever-popular comedy set in 1880, still performed around the world today – and coming to the Playlovers stage this April and May.

Written by Harold Brighouse and directed by James Hough-Neilson, the title comes from the expression “Hobson's choice”, meaning no choice at all.

The play has been adapted for film several times, as well as the Broadway musical Walking Happy.

Hough-Neilson, who has directed the play once before, said Hobson’s Choice is a classic of which people never tire.

“The head of the family is called Harold Hobson and he is helped by three daughters in their boot shop,” he said.

“The accents used will be familiar to watchers of British television programs.

“It’s a real comedy everybody can enjoy.”

A professional actor, on and off, for the past 62 years, Hough-Neilson has a wealth of experience behind him – and then some.

He studied at London Drama School, then spent three years learning and performing a play a week in repertory theatre and appeared in the number one West End play Summer Seasons. Numerous UK television appearances followed, along with radio work and various commercials.

In WA, Hough-Neilson has worked with Stirling, Limelight and Playlovers Theatres over the past 23 years, performing in or directing productions such as Breaker Morant, The Late Edwina Black, Showboat, The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady, The Importance of Being Earnest, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

His 2006 production of The Judas Kiss at Playlovers received best director, best play, best costumes and best supporting actor accolades at the annual Finley Awards.

“My main challenge with Hobson’s Choice is to assist the actors with the Lancashire dialect – fortunately there are some cast members familiar with it,” Hough-Neilson said.

“It is always easier to learn when you are with natural speakers.

“The other challenge, as always, is your responsibility to the audience, as well as the author, to bring the story alive to make sure nothing is missed.”

Hobson’s Choice plays at 8pm, April 27, 28, May 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 and 7pm, May 6.

Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on 0415 777 173 or [email protected]

Playlovers is located at Hackett Hall, Draper Street (off Underwood Avenue), Floreat. More information available at

hc4: Harold Hobson (Andy Markland), left, faces a few dilemmas in Hobson’s Choice with Maggie Hobson (Jeanette Hotop) and Willie Mossop (Gordon Park).

hc-kiss: Will Mossop (Gordon Park) receives the amorous attentions of Vickey (Kate O’Sullivan) and Alice (Nicole Kaminksi) in Hobson’s Choice. (Note: spelling of Vickey is correct)

hc-doctor: All is not well when Dr MacFarlan (George McCabe), right, visits Maggie (Jeanette Hotop) and Harold Hobson (Andy Markland) in Hobson’s Choice.

hc3: Love is in the air for Albert (Brendan Ellis) and Alice (Nicole Kaminski) and Vickey (Kate O’Sullivan) and Jim Beenstock (Josh Lang) in Hobson’s Choice.

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Playlovers has been in operation for more than 50 years in Western Australia. Generally performing from Hackett Hall, Draper Street, Floreat, the company puts on four to six seasons a year - including one to two musicals.

Members are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the club: on the creative side (performing, directing, etc), the more technical activities (lighting, backstage, set-building, costume-making, etc) or on the sidelines (serving teas and coffees, and generally helping with other front of house activities).
James Hough-Neilson
P: (08) 9401 2558


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