1975 and all that: Kieran Hodgson’s ‘75 @Sohotheatre
Actor, comedian, storyteller Kieran Hodgson has picked a topic for his latest show that should serve him well for the rest of his life. '75 at the Soho Theatre covers Britain’s on-again off-again affair with the European Union. You’re left without a doubt that since Britain has been arguing over the past fifty years about its place in Europe. It’s fairly likely that we’re going to continue to argue about it for the next fifty years. It’s not so much that leave means leave but that leave means nothing of any consequence. It’s either an enduring relationship or one to be endured.
This is not a rehash of the Brexit referendum. Even the chaos in parliament following last week’s votes gets little mention. But it doesn’t have to. Hodgson has his eye on the history books. How we got into Europe and how a referendum in 1975 was the way for a divided Labour Party to settle the issue. The referendum of 2016 wasn’t just history repeating itself. But it was a poor cover for the original with fake news and electoral fraud substituted for genuine argument.
Using his leave-voting mother as the backdrop for exploring Britain’s relationship with the rest of Europe, he explores the early arguments for joining Europe. Retracing Britain’s emergence from war rations to sexual liberation and Twiggy in the sixties. Then to economic stagnation in the seventies. Hodgson explains the towering figures of the time. In his own way. Charles De Gaulle becomes Ru Paul. Enoch Powell and Tony Benn are all given equal time. But it’s clear his fascination with two men and their role in bringing the UK closer to Europe: Edward Heath and Roy Jenkins.
It’s funny and some of his impressions are uncanny. But it’s also a great story told by a great storyteller. And it’s at the Soho Theatre downstairs until 2 February for now.