Reviewer: Jo Beggs
You might think a Brexit related show would have run its course by now. It might even have been a gamble to take it to Edinburgh in 2018, but Kieran Hodgson’s 75 was one of the critical highlights at the fringe, and it’s continued to be a huge hit with audiences in a long London run. Now on tour, Hodgson delivers this sharp, intelligent hour of exquisitely crafted comedy to a full house in the Lowry studio.
Hodgson’s table full of hefty political histories and biographies sets the scene. His exploration into the reasons for Brexit have gone way beyond the editorials in the Guardian. He’s revisited – so you don’t have to – fifty years of political history in order to get a sense of what went wrong, resulting in a brilliantly measured and informed set of conclusions. It hard to imagine all this as the ideal starting point for a comedy show.
This is Hodgson’s genius. Firstly, he’s a superb impressionist and there’s something inherently funny in seeing a young comedian deliver a brilliantly observed Harold Wilson or Enoch Powell impersonation. Secondly, unlike many impressionists who seem to think that the skill of imitation is enough, Hodgson uses them to support and deliver really excellent comedy material, weaving an absorbing and convincing story that is unexpectedly joyful.
75 deals with the run-up to the UK joining the EEC, the 1975 referendum to continue membership, and the relationship over the next forty years. The show comes out of Hodgson’s genuine bafflement regarding the 2016 referendum result and his discomfort with being solidly entrenched in the liberal elite. He knows that he’s speaking to his own people with this show – and he’s not trying to change minds, but you do come away better informed. It’s pretty impressive that an hour-long show can do that and provide so many laughs.
Random cultural references come thick and fast – from RuPaul to Harry Potter – and if one of them passes you by it just adds to the frantic pace of the show. Hodgson slips from one impersonation effortlessly into another, then to other characters in his story (his mum, the Beatles…) and back to himself as narrator. It’s all held together with slick lighting and sound design.
There‘s still tickets for Hodgson’s tour dates available across the country. Don’t miss this political geek comedy of the highest order.
Reviewed on 16 March 2019 | Image: Contributed