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- Hobson's Choice - 1/23 -


HOBSON'S CHOICE

A Lancashire Comedy in Four Acts

BY

HAROLD BRIGHOUSE

_Hobson's Choice_ was originally produced in America. Its first English production took place on June 22, 1916, at the Apollo Theatre, London, with the following cast:

ALICE HOBSON . . . . . . . . _Miss Lydia Bilbrooke_. MAGGIE HOBSON . . . . . . . . _Miss Edyth Goodall_. VICKEY HOBSON . . . . . . . . _Miss Hilda Davies_. ALBERT PROSSER . . . . . . . . _Mr. Reginald Fry_. HENRY HORATIO HOBSON . . . . . . _Mr. Norman McKinnel_. MRS. HEPWORTH . . . . . . . . _Miss Dora Gregory_. TIMOTHY WADLOW (TUBBY). . . . . . _Mr. Sydney Paxton_. WILLIAM MOSSOP . . . . . . . . _Mr. Joe Nightingale_. JIM HEELER . . . . . . . . . _Mr. J. Cooke Beresford_. ADA FIGGINS . . . . . . . . . _Miss Mary Byron_. FRED BEENSTOCK . . . . . . . . _Mr. Jefferson Gore_. DR. MACFARLANE . . . . . . . . _Mr. J. Fisher White_.

The play produced by MR. NORMAN McKINNEL.

_The_ SCENE _is Salford, Lancashire, and the period is 1880_.

ACT I. _Interior of_ HOBSON'S _Shop in Chapel Street_.

ACT II. _The same scene_.

ACT III. WILL MOSSOP'S _Shop_.

ACT IV. _Living-room of_ HOBSON'S _Shop_.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE.

Acknowledgements are made to Mr. William Armstrong, Director of the Liverpool Repertory Company, for allowing his prompt copy to be used in preparing this acting edition.

[Illustration] Red Walls, Brown oaken dado. T. gas bracket over counter. Turkey red curtains half up window. No carpet. Small rug at door R. Shoes on counter and showcases. Hanging laces. Advertisements. Boot polishes. Brushes. Brown paper on counter. Clogs in rows under shelves R. C. Black cane furniture and rush- bottomed. Heavy leather armchair. Piece of rough leather on shelves.

The trap is eminently desirable. However, should the stage used have no trap, the work-room may be supposed to be off-stage, with a door up Right.

HOBSON'S CHOICE

ACT 1

_The_ SCENE _represents the interior of_ HOBSON'S _Boot Shop in Chapel Street, Bedford. The shop windows and entrance from street occupy the left side. Facing the audience is the counter, with exhibits of boots and slippers, behind which the wall is fitted with racks containing boot boxes. Cane chairs in front of counter. There is a desk down L. with a chair. A door R. leads up to the house. In the centre of the stage is a trap leading to the cellar where work is done. There are no elaborate fittings. Gas brackets in the windows and walls. The business is prosperous, but to prosper in Salford in 1880 you did not require the elaborate accessories of a later day. A very important customer goes for fitting into_ HOBSON'S _sitting-room. The rank and file use the cane chairs in the shop, which is dingy but business-like. The windows exhibit little stock, and amongst what there is clogs figure prominently. Through the windows comes the bright light of noon.

Sitting behind the counter are_ HOBSON'S _two younger daughters,_ ALICE, R., _who is twenty-three, and_ VICTORIA, L., _who is twenty-one, and very pretty_. ALICE _is knitting and_ VICTORIA _is reading. They are in black, with neat black aprons. The door_ R. _opens, and_ MAGGIE _enters. She is_ HOBSON'S _eldest daughter, thirty_.

ALICE. Oh, it's you. I hoped it was father going out.

MAGGIE. It isn't. (_She crosses and takes her place at desk_ L.)

ALICE. He _is_ late this morning.

MAGGIE. He got up late. (_She busies herself with an account book_.)

VICKEY. (_reading_). Has he had breakfast yet, Maggie?

MAGGIE. Breakfast! With a Masons' meeting last night!

VICKEY. He'll need reviving.

ALICE. Then I wish he'd go and do it.

VICKEY. Are you expecting anyone, Alice?

ALICE. Yes, I am, and you know I am, and I'll thank you both to go when he comes.

VICKEY. Well, I'll oblige you, Alice, if father's gone out first, only you know I can't leave the counter till he goes.

(ALBERT PROSSER _enters from the street. He is twenty-six, nicely dressed, as the son of an established solicitor would be. He crosses to_ R. _and raises his hat to _ALICE.)

ALBERT. Good morning, Miss Alice.

ALICE. Good morning, Mr. Prosser. (_She leans across counter_.) Father's not gone out yet. He's late.

ALBERT. Oh! (_He turns to go, and is half-way to door, when MAGGIE rises_.)

MAGGIE (_coming_ C.). What can we do for you, Mr. Prosser?

ALBERT (_stopping_). Well, I can't say that I came in to buy anything, Miss Hobson.

MAGGIE. This is a shop, you know. We're not here to let people go out without buying.

ALBERT. Well, I'll just have a pair of bootlaces, please. (_Moves slightly to_ R.)

MAGGIE. What size do you take in boots?

ALBERT. Eights. I've got small feet. (_He simpers, then perceives that_ MAGGIE _is by no means smiling_.) Does that matter to the laces?

MAGGIE (_putting mat in front of arm-chair_ R. C.) It matters to the boots. (_She pushes him slightly_.) Sit down, Mr. Prosser.

ALBERT (_sitting in arm-chair_ R. C.) Yes, but--

(MAGGIE _is on her knees and takes off his boot_.)

MAGGIE. It's time you had a new pair. These uppers are disgraceful for a professional man to wear. Number eights from the third rack, Vickey, please.

ALICE (_moving down a little_). Mr. Prosser didn't come in to buy boots, Maggie.

(VICKEY _comes down to_ MAGGIE _with box which she opens_.)

MAGGIE. I wonder what does bring him in here so often!

(ALICE _moves back to behind counter_.)

ALBERT. I'm terrible hard on bootlaces, Miss Hobson.

(MAGGIE _puts a new boot on him and laces it_.)

MAGGIE. Do you get through a pair a day? You must be strong.

ALBERT. I keep a little stock of them. It's as well to be prepared for accidents.

MAGGIE. And now you'll have boots to go with the laces, Mr. Prosser. How does that feel?

ALBERT. Very comfortable.

MAGGIE. Try it standing up.

ALBERT (_trying and walking a few steps_). Yes, that fits all right.

MAGGIE. I'll put the other on.

ALBERT. Oh no, I really don't want to buy them.

MAGGIE (_pushing him_). Sit down, Mr. Prosser. You can't go through the streets in odd boots.

(ALICE _comes down again_.)

ALBERT. What's the price of these?

MAGGIE. A pound.


Hobson's Choice - 1/23

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