Kieran Hodgson: '75
- Brian Donaldson
- 2 August 2018
Another sterling display of comic prowess from Kieran Hodgson as he tries to make sense of Britain's relations with Europe
After receiving fully deserved Edinburgh Comedy Award nominations for his last two shows, Lance (about the disgraced Yellow Jersey-stealing cyclist Armstrong), and Maestro (concerning the psychologically troubled Austro-Bohemian late-Romantic composer Gustav Mahler), Kieran Hodgson is back with a Brexit-shaped show that is easily on a par. But all these Fringe hours are much more than mere biographical analyses or, in '75's case, about taking the increasingly fevered temperature of a nation and continent in flux and confusion: they are all largely about Kieran Hodgson.
On the face of it, '75 is a note-perfect examination at Britain's seemingly permanent conflicted relationship to the project of European unity. When the country debated joining the common market during the early 70s, it was the Conservatives who were leading the march to closer ties with Brussels, and Hodgson looks back on the then Prime Minister Ted Heath as hero of the hour. But heroes, as Hodgson discovered to his angst when the catalogue of misdemeanours perpetrated by Lance Armstrong finally came to light, almost always let you down. Hodgson has the perfect right to look back fondly on the late Heath's achievements (in classical music, competitive sailing and being an empathetic WWII veteran) while rumours and allegations of his hidden life as a sexual predator still rumble on.
With an array of vivid political characters portrayed by Hodgson within a script tighter than the SNP majority in North East Fife, the laughs are free flowing as he imagines the Labour party of the early 1970s like a West Side Story spoof, and delightfully conjures up the period's power cuts in a single image. But the true story here is about the comic's relationship with his Leave-voting mother, a living example of the division experienced in families and friendships across the land in 2016. But as proven by the Brexiteers' campaign and the post-referendum fog we all live in, nothing is quite as it seems in '75.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 8.15pm, £8–£12 (£7–£11).