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Hobson’s Choice - Birmingham Royal Ballet
ROBERT Parker dances as if his life depends on a performance that must be nothing less than perfect.
And no wonder. For this is now his dragonfly summer, that all-too-short time before he folds his gossamer wings and falls to earth and takes up the top job at Elmhurst ballet school.
So we must make the most of his awesome talents while we can. And here they most surely all are, laid out in front of us like the rows of shoes and boots in drunken old Hobson’s shop.
There’s slapstick, tap, a back-flip that almost ends in disaster, and even a bit of classical in this vast array of fancy footwork. And yes – as if you hadn’t guessed already – the BRB golden boy is blindingly brilliant as cautious suitor Will Mossop, the boot hand who’s brought to heel by the boss’s daughter.
However, Parker doesn’t quite get all the glory. For this is indeed a shop window of the company’s top performers, every single one a light shining bright in his or own right.
David Morse as shambling drunk Henry Hobson delivers a comedy masterpiece, his Chaplin-esque staggers and lurches performed to a Royal Ballet Sinfonia that seems to have borrowed a whole box of sound effects from the Carry On films. Thank you, composer Paul Reade – it certainly worked for me.
Meanwhile, Elisha Willis’s Maggie Hobson perfectly partners Parker’s Mossop, while Carol-Anne Millar and Victoria Marr as the younger Hobson girls also show a clean pair of dainty heels.
They glide and wheel like whirlpools in the commercial backwaters of Hobson’s world, providing stark contrasts to their comically inept young men played with great humour by Matthew Lawrence and Jonathan Payn.
Of course, we should thank choreographer David Bintley for making all this possible… for he has taken a rather ordinary, moralistic Victorian tale and sprinkled it with his own inimitable brand of stardust.
Hobson’s Choice runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, February 25.