Good things come to those who Waites

Zoe Waites as Maggie in Hobson's Choice at the Crucible' Photo by Robert Day

Zoe Waites as Maggie in Hobson's Choice at the Crucible' Photo by Robert Day

0
Have your say

As Hobson’s Choice earns laughs at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, we talk to one of its stars and the director

As Hobson’s Choice earns laughs at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, we talk to one of its stars and the director

Zoe Waites  in rehearsals for Hobson's Choice at the Crucible

Zoe Waites in rehearsals for Hobson's Choice at the Crucible

FACING straight-talking Yorkshire actor Barrie Rutter might be enough to strike fear into anyone but in Hobson’s Choice it is the northern accent that could have thrown Devon-raised actress Zoe Waites.

“It’s set 130 years ago so the way we speak is not the way people would necessarily speak now, even for the actors from over there,” says Zoe, who plays the rebellious daughter who turns the tables on her controlling father (Rutter) in the Crucible hit.

“My parents were fairly rebellious so nothing we could do could shock them,” she says in a break from her role as Maggie Hobson, who sets up a bootmaking business to rival her father.

“I don’t have sisters so that’s not a dynamic I have in my life, but the girls belong to a generation who want to break the shackles of this very strict upbringing they’ve got. This is a play you could transpose to different periods.”

Zoe’s numerous theatre credits haven’t brought her to Sheffield until now, but she has seen several productions of Hobson’s Choice, including the tour that took former Coronation Street star John Savident to the Lyceum as Hobson.

“I hadn’t really thought it would come my way, particularly now in our industry as people tend to be cast in terms of where they’re from. It’s set in Lancashire and I thought they would get a Lancashire actress for it.”

Zoe has been cast alongside another ex-Corrie actor, Philip McGinley (playing her boyfriend William Mossop), Victoria Wood collaborator Sue Wallace (Common As Muck, Making Out) and Emily Aston, who also cites Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit on her CV.

Overall, Harold Brighouse’s most famous work seems to endure in spite of changing times. “It’s a fantastically written play and it’s just got so much spirit and life and energy that as soon as you hear it pinging in the room you understand why.

“We are drawn still to that parent/child relationship, to families, dysfunctional families. It’s an old story; an autocratic father figure with three girls all trying to choose their own ways in life.

“It’s very connected to the industrialised north of that time, very pragmatic, practical and the way they speak to each other... there’s no flannel. I’m drawn to anything about relationships. You can never tire of exploring relationships between people, whether it’s a parent/child, sibling or lovers and friends.”

The daughter of a Totnes drama teacher, keen walker Zoe describes Sheffield as a “really appealing city” and has been pushing for cast outings to the Peaks.

In the meantime, you can watch Hobson’s Choice until June 25.

“It’s a good message for parents that you reap what you sow,” she adds. “Maggie has spent 30 years with father haranguing her and controlling, all that bluster about ‘women are good for nothing’ and it comes back to bite him.

“She’s learnt at the hands of a master, how to command. Maggie is not a selfish person, she is exploring. She’s altruistic. There’s no love lost between the girls.

“They are furious with Maggie for what she’s done. She could just stick with her lot and not see them any more, but she comes back and makes their lives possible for them. She’s motivated by wanting it to be fair and everybody to have a good deal.

“If you need to make some changes in your life take this play as a little bit of inspiration and courage.”

Back to the top of the page