Kieran Hodgson: Maestro at Soho TheatreCultureTheatre
Not content with moonlighting as Mr Swallow’s assistant in the excellent Houdini, Kieran Hodgson has brought his Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated show Maestro to Soho Theatre. Dabbling in Richard Curtis territory – if Curtis’s films were scored by Classic FM and not Wet Wet Wet – the comedian has managed to produce something as tender and affecting as it is sharp and silly.
Lil’ Kieran is a boy in love – or at least, he wants to be. If there are flashes of Alan Partridge and Will from The Inbetweeners in Hodgson’s socially inept persona, then there is also the very real ache that comes with unmet romantic enthusiasm. The performer bounces from the ambivalent affection of Lucy, the Bali-bound Callum or the femme-fatale frankness of Cecile as he spends his school days and beyond searching for someone to inspire his symphony. The earnestness of this narrative places Maestro in a slightly different ball park to the lineage mentioned above; yet while such sincerity could be a comedy-killer, Hodgson side-steps this issue by constructing something deliriously funny to go alongside the feels.
At its best Maestro is like a romcom variety show without the naffness associated with that genre. Hodgson utilises an armoury of conceits and comedic methods, from impressions (including the joyous gift that is Hodgson as Andrew Scott as Moriarty playing Gustav Mahler, something that is worth the price of admission alone) to a bevy of characters both cartoonish and credible (especially the string of Brummies who may or may not originate from the Midlands) to a never-ending array of exquisitely crafted one liners.
It’s also deliciously carefree in its combination of brows both high and low, Proust’s madeleine sitting next to a Whitsun spoof of Grease‘s Summer Nights. The secondary school sketches are especially deft in this regard, capturing the awkward lack of self-awareness of a well-meaning know-it-all who thinks nothing of scolding his classmates with a school bus rap. And that’s not to mention the classical music, often played by Hodgson, liberally sprinkled throughout the show. It could be a bit of a mess if it weren’t tethered to such an undeniably sweet quest for love and a genuine appreciation for the work of Mahler. If only there was a word for such a distinguished comedic composer…
Kieran Hodgson: Maestro is at Soho Theatre from 6th until 11th February 2017, for further information or to book visit here.