ComedyDramaPulse FestivalReviewSouth East

PULSE FESTIVAL: Maestro – New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

Writer and performer: Kieran Hodgson
Reviewer: Glen Pearce

A grating, raspy, just so slightly out of tune violin rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is a shaky start, but don’t be fooled, Kieran Hodgson is anything but a rusty violinist. Maestro, his one-man narrative through teenage geekdom to early 20s relationships turns out to not only to be an ode to the love of classical music but also a poignant yet funny biography of his own life.

It is a remarkable creation, Hodgson moving from his 11-year-old self, through his discovery of his love of classical music, especially Gustav Mahler, the discovery of girls and eventually the discovery of boys – oh and all set against the backdrop of his own very first symphony.

Hodgson plays all the characters in this epic tale, switching between characters with split-second timing via visits to his younger schoolyard self, so nerdy that you wonder how he ever survived to his first tentative, self-doubting adventures into the world of romance – via a musical spoof of Grease and a lovingly cruel mockery of Classic FM’s programming bias.

What works so well here is Hodgson’s well-drilled eye for detail. With nothing but a chair and his trusty violin, Hodgson’s world is impeccably drawn. Each character, each musical reference, positioned perfectly for dramatic or comic effect.

There can’t be many comedy’s to include references to Schoenbergian Sprechgesang, and even fewer in this BSL interpreted performance to have a signer brave enough to translate it, but the musical references here are pitched perfectly to add to the orchestral cacophony of laughs.

Even the spirit of Mahler himself makes several appearances, albeit through the spirit mediums of Morrisey, Andrew Scott’s Moriarty and (Hodgson look-a-like) David Tennant.

Despite the wealth of characters, the musical motifs and the comedy, what is truly warming is Hodgson’s engaging honesty. A master storyteller, Hodgson is also a virtuoso Maestro, conducting multiple elements into a rousing celebration of life.

Reviewed on 1 June 2017  |  @pulseipswich #pulse17

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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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