Saturday, February 19, 2011

REVIEW: Hobson's Choice by the Birmingham Royal Ballet

Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, Friday February 18

Hobson's Choice is a delightfully woven piece of theater that celebrates everything English... north, at least.
I had a bad day at work (yes, I do work), and this ballet was the perfect remedy. Everything seemed to work together beautifully. It reminded me of Cole Porter's songs in which the words and the music are so perfect for each other.
In this case, the music by Paul Reade was appealing and unpretentious; while the choreography by David Bintley has a beautiful balance between dance and mime, solo and ensemble work that gracefully weave through the music. Bintley endowed the ballet with gorgeous pas de deux's and witty social observation. How he developed each character and how he made them interact with each other was superbly and creatively handled. Production and costume design by Hayden Griffin was gloriously opulent, effective and practical, while the lighting by John Read consistently kept the atmosphere northern.

Most lead dancers were technically secured, but all were dramatically excellent. David Morse’s Henry Hobson was a grumpy, foolish and incorrigible drinker. Gaylene Cummerfield’s Maggie Hobson was suitably frumpy and wise with beautiful and restrained line. Robert Parker made a shy and lovable Will Mossop matched with techniques and boyish charm. On the other hand, I did wish to see a better Albert Prosser as Jonathan Payn hid his dance behind his clumsy character. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, led by Paul Murphy, provided a vivid and colorful performance.

February 20 2011 -
P.S. I just want to be clear that if you are looking for any artistic breakthrough or creative innovation, this ballet will not cut it. Simply put, if this is a movie, this may be a box-office hit, but will not win ANY of the Oscars.
Hobson's Choice
A ballet in three acts (after Harold Birghouse's play Hobson's Choice)
Asian Premiere
Birmingham Royal Ballet

Creative Team:
Music: Paul Reade
Choreographer: David Bintley
Designs: Hayden Griffin
Lighting: John B. Read

Cast includes:
Henry Hobson: David Morse
Maggie Hobson: Gaylene Cummerfield
Vickey Hobson: Carol-Anne Millar
Fred Beenstock: Matthew Lawrence
Albert Prosser: Honathan Payn
Alice Hobson: Victoria Marr
Will Mossop: Robert Parker
Live Accompaniment: Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Conductor: Paul Murphy

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At February 21, 2011 at 1:44 PM , OpenID passionfortheatre said...

I saw this performance last night and agree with you that while it was perfectly pleasant, there was nothing earth shatteringly new about it. Nevertheless the sumptuous dances and the comic timing of the dancers were delightful. I particularly liked the way Maggie Hobson and Will Mossop were portrayed. Still, it was admirably bold of the Hong Kong Arts Festival to bring this staging to the city.

At February 21, 2011 at 4:46 PM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

@passionfortheatre, HI! Thank you for your comment. After a week in Berlin where everything has to be "innovative" and "modern", it was nice to see something traditional yet delightfully entertaining. Productions like Hobson's Choice play an important role in performing arts. By the way, I enjoy reading your blog. Hope you get the opportunity to see more of what HK Arts Festival has to offer :-)


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