Edinburgh, the Fringe, why bother?
Well I tend to find July in England a little too hot, and come the end of it I’m longing to head up where the cooling breezes rise off the Firth of Forth, where the grass is still the lushest green and where the clouds roll in then part just as you reach the top of Arthur’s Seat. There are also a number of reasons why it is useful for my career.
What have been the nuggets of inspiration behind your show this year?
My chief inspiration has been the main man Gustav Mahler, an Austrian composer from the late 19th and early 20thcenturies who really wasn’t all that funny but who did occasionally put deliberately stupid music in his symphonies when he got fed up of being serious. In the show I talk about trying to live up to an impossibly superior artist and how that mainly doesn’t work out but is a fun journey. There’s a nice story of how, when Mahler’s daughter refused to eat her dinner, Mahler ordered her to leave the room and come back as an insatiably hungry character called ‘Gladys’. I couldn’t find a place for that story in the show so you enjoy it.
Stand-out Fringe moment to date?
The first time my flatmates and I all decided to relieve our Fringe depression by having ‘Christmas Day’ in the flat, back in 2010. We had Christmas dinner, secret Santa, bunting, and parlour games, and the whole thing was kicked off the previous evening with a Midnight Mass, at which I officiated and at which there were some lovely readings from the book of Jonah and the Gospel of St John. Turns out that Edinburgh has two Christmas Shops and so if you’re willing to pay £30 for luxury crackers in August, you can recreate this experience yourselves!
When you wished a hole had opened up in the ground and swallowed you up?
Gosh, so many choices! Either the day Miriam Margolyes fell asleep in the front row of my show in 2013, or after my first-ever solo show in 2012, which was attended by 10 people who sat in perfect silence throughout. With no convenient hole in the ground, I settled for the Gents in the Voodoo Rooms and had a massive cry.
Your unsung heroes in the industry at current?
I’ve had many fortunate guiding lights, Ben Target looming large among them. Everyone has a good word about Ben – he’s open, supportive, and deeply thoughtful, ideal if you’re looking for guidance or a shoulder to cry on. (Must stop thinking about crying). Also, Nick Mohammed is just the stupidest, cleverest, most spontaneously funny person I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. Give him every star going.
Three shows you must see this Fringe?
Phil Dunning is about to arrive and make a lot of people very excited. Then there’s Alistair McGowan’s play about Erik Satie, and my final choice, which I’m gutted I can’t see, is Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder performed at Usher Hall on the 28thof August. I do a bit of it in my show but it’s just not the same as seeing it done by 200 professional musicians.
The one person you’d love to see your show and why?
Well it would be a dream to get Sir Simon Rattle in, just so we could swap notes after the show and compare our respective contributions to Mahler scholarship. Plus his big bouncy hair would be a welcome distraction during the gig.
The reason why one should come and see your show?
It features an original score by me. Come on, what I do have to do to impress you people, please, please be impressed or I’m going to start crying.
The one thing in Edinburgh you must do?
Well in recent years I’ve become an addict of playing tennis on the Meadows to take my mind off all the madness. But the sneaky thing is, if you play before 9, it’s free. So even if it means missing out on fun and partying and late-night networking in the Pleasance Dome to the serious detriment of my career, I shall be having many an early night with my eyes on the prize of losing in straight sets to Al from Sheeps the following morning.
Ah sorry, you’re dead. But least you can have that dinner party you’ve always wanted. Who are you inviting?
I really like to keep things low-key, so let’s have an intimate gathering of Wilkie Collins, Charles II, Katherine Hepburn and hungry hungry Gladys, so that there’s no leftovers.
Kieran Hodgson: Maestro at The Speakeasy at the Voodoo Rooms 6th-29th August, 9.30pm.