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Review: Comedian Kieran Hodgson’s Maestro, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa

I find it amazing that an 11-year-old would have the impetus and drive to start writing a four-movement symphony. My teens are too busy on Snapchat and Overwatch.

Even more so, a symphony influenced by late-Romantic Austrian composer Gustav Mahler – who comedian Kieran Hodgson admits himself was “a bad boy…a rebel composer…more of an evil genius” (and one who doesn’t even make it onto the play-list of shock-horror – Classic FM!). But this is indeed what the 28-year-old self-effacing Yorkshire writer and performer did.

Walking on stage with his violin the gentle, multi-talented comedian interweaves bits of his own symphony both live (and pre-recorded with an orchestra), with very funny anecdotes of characters from his ill-fated early love life, who influenced each movement over 17 years.

These range from Lucy, his first girlfriend in Yr 7, Callum, a fellow student he fell for at uni and Cecile, who he went out with during a uni year-out in France.

In these Northern coming-of-age stories he plays multi-characters – male and female – in an impressive array of voices, including his deadpan Brummie music teacher Mr Davies, – who tells his class that rap was only on the school curriculum to stop teachers from getting stabbed.

A self-confessed “Mahler-addict”, his beloved composer is also brought to life in the guise of his own look-a-like David Tennant, Sherlock’s Moriaty and Morrissey.

Lucy was his first muse and  inspired him to write a “sexy” Schindler’s List-like symphony performed by the school orchestra. At the premiere Lucy was nowhere to be found, so our hero tracks her down to the Musical Practice rooms where she’s snogging Daniel Armitage.

Kieran met Callum just before he was due to go on a 5- week clubbing holiday in Bali… He reads out his naively hopeful youthful love messages with the odd classical reference thrown-in, to which Callum curtly replies: “There’s no Chopin on the beach, only lots of noisy Australian guys.” Hmm.

One of the pleasures of the show is in young Kieron’s geeky uncool awkwardness. His School Bus Rap is genius, as his ironic pastiche of Summer Loving from Grease re-enacting the beginnings of his schoolboy romance with Lucy. Of his nerdy younger self he says: “I didn’t wear jeans and couldn’t tolerate physical contact.”

On the 3rd year of his language degree at Oxford Uni, Kieran was working at a language school in the French city, Besancon, and celebrated his 21st birthday alone memorising the lines of Yes Minster.

His South American flatmate brought some friends back for a surprise party while Kieran was in his PJs. And that’s how he met Cecile – an American femme-fatale with a fragrant disrespect of public transport and Mahler. This combination led to the demise of their dysfunctional relationship and the realisation of his true love and destiny.

You’ll have to watch the show to find out who the object of his affections is in this warm, quirky symphonic love story.

It comes as no surprise that Kirean has already been a nominee for the Edinburgh Comedy Award two years on the run, as well as his previous show Lance being crowned The Guardian’s No. 1 Comedy Show of 2015.

At the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 Maestro attracted major stars of the comedy scene from Ian Hislop and Dara O’Briain to Mark Watson and Josie Long. He also received a five-star review from The Telegraph.

2015’s Lance was a rites-of-passage story drawing on Kieran’s adolescent cycling obsession. You can’t help marvel at his brilliance in turning another of his hobbies, namely classical music, into comedy.

To find out where you can catch him on tour go to: showandtelluk.com/event/kieran-hodgson-maestro/

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