Kieran Hodgson, Supervillain – review

Wednesday, October 10 2012

Kieran Hodgson's solo debut show is like a one-man Little Britain, only with actual depth

Kieran Hodgson

The market trader bellowing about his "lovely big dogs" for sale, the vicar mourning his dead cat on Palm Sunday, the Northern Irish conductor tearing a strip off his orchestra, the British-Asian kid who's joined the EDL, the immigrant escalope-maker who sees romance in them there escalopes, the nonchalant toff who's making a fortune on payday loans, the eager-to-please mayor and the trendy young Scottish sculptor.

Kieran Hodgson's Supervillain is like a one-man Little Britain, only with actual depth. His characters run the gamut of British society, and while there is some overlap between them, the versatility is impressive and he manages to utterly inhabit each one without so much as a costume change or a prop. Each is quickly identifiable through a strong opening statement and the sort of acting ability that seems to change his very shape of his face.

Much of the action appears to happen in Mansfield, and there is a parochial feel to it like a lighter League of Gentlemen or an updated Alan Bennett set of monologues. If anything Hodgson could have pushed this further and had his entire community from the same place, introduce a bit of claustrophobia. As it was, his South African prisoner fighting for parole and the deep south grandad who's formed his own republic were enjoyable in themselves but felt like outliers.

He doesn't necessarily play for laughs all the time, and has the balls to not try to finish each skit with a big line. This is a character study and a lot of the humour derives from how each one unravels and descends. That said, he's not above having the odd catchphrase.

A few I thought were underused, such as the British-Asian kid, also the well-intentioned Geordie trying to sell the benefits of AV voting to us, and the Morrissey dating video, although I can see how bumping up the latter might have sat uncomfortably with the rest of the show.

The fact that Hodgson – one half of Kieran and Joe – even references AV and the EDL is refreshing. Sexy comedy subjects though they are not, they at least root the show at a particular time, which is something you rarely get to say about character or sketch comedy. "Ken Hickling – one nation" is one of the mayor's held-up slogans. It's not heavy-handed, but these nods to current (or current-ish) affairs make a real difference.

The laugh-out-loud moments thinned out as the show went on, but this is still a highly impressive, skilful hour and I already look forward to his future shows.

3.5 stars

Review written by Paul Fleckney


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