One of the shows of the Fringe …
The first thing to say about Kieran Hodgson’s latest show, Maestro, is that if you’re planning on seeing it, you have to get there an hour early for tickets (even though it’s a free show). Demand is high.
It’s worth the extra admin, though, as it is a fabulously funny and human show, which gets to the very heart of who this talented comic is. It’s good to be able to say that no one else but Hodgson could have written or performed this show.
There are similarities to his 2015 show about Lance Armstrong and his own coming of age, in that he harks back to his youth to tell the story, and covers many characters. Whereas Lance was about cycling and growing up, Maestro is about love and music – which are the two best things, aren’t they? (Except comedy of course, ahem).
Since he was 11, Hodgson has been gradually writing a symphony (you read that right), and it’s via this piece of music that he explores his early forays into romance. He manages to not come across as superior in the slightest, despite the fact that he’s written a fucking symphony. Instead he comes across as like Mark Corrigan from Peep Show: a fogey in a young body, turning down the volume at parties, and and old-fashioned romantic who’s too emotionally sclerotic to act on it. Hodgson is at least more likeable than Corrigan.
Gustav Mahler – the “evil genius” who is Hodgson’s hero – pops up every now and then to lend a bit of musical knowhow, and we meet Hodgson’s various teachers, friends and paramours. In the 15 years or so covered by the show, there are some excellently conspicuous bits of context, like crowbarring references to David Blanket and Gordon Brown, to put a timestamp on things.
It’s sophisticated, heartfelt, and enormously impressive. With Hodgson already an established TV actor, you wonder how long he will be knocking around doing Fringe shows in a tiny room. He’s already far too big for it. There are so many reasons to go and see this show, just make sure that you do.
Review by Paul Fleckney