Is everyone in Yorkshire into cycling? It certainly seems that way. Kieran Hodgson hails from Otley like current World Champion and Women's Tour winner, Lizzie Armitstead. But Hodgson has created his comedy show, Lance, based on his youthful obsession with Amercian Lance Armstrong, rather than any home grown talent. That said, Lance is a completely Northern coming-of-age tale, with Armstrong taking a cameo role in the form of Kieran's bedroom wall poster in this semi-autobiographical story.
Lance is Hodgson's second comedy show after the French Exchange. It was nominated for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award last year. Having completed a run at the festival fringe, you can catch Lance coming to a theatre near you. The next tour dates are in... you guessed it... Yorkshire (and Southend!).
The play opens to a very minimal set of an exercise bike and a chair, which doesn't give much away... Lance is a one-man show, with talented mimic Hodgson switching deftly from one character to the next. It takes the audience a little while to work out what's going on at the beginning of the performance as, without any props, Hodgson portrays Scoutmaster Rob prepping his team for the annual Holme Valley Mountain Bike Challenge. An IT teacher by day, Rob knows how to suck the joy out of any occasion: "On your marks, get set, and ... let’s have a bit of a safety notice."
Finally we meet teenage Kieran, along with his friends weird Matthew "don't be afraid to put a sock on your knob" and cool Simon, "the King of Being 15". The year is 2003, when Lance Armstrong famously came back from almost certain defeat to win the Tour de France for the fifth time. Kieran writes a toe curlingly awkward fan letter to Lance, who replies by sending him a poster with the Nike tick and the slogan 'Just Do It' below his 'cheating Texan face'.
Lance, and his slogan 'Just Do It' become a bit of a mantra for Kieran, encouraging him to take risks and extend his aspirations. After achieving greatness with his A level results, Armstrong encourages Kieran to 'dream big'. One of the shows highlights is a Noel Coward style song in which Kieran is persuaded to turn his back on the North and apply to university in southern England. In real life, Hodgson achieved a place at Oxford University which was clearly the inspiration for the funniest character of all - the plummy president of the rowing society: "Apocolash!" he commands in his public-school drawl, "let's face it lads, it's fun doping!"
Hodgson's script is tight with every line crafted to deliver maximum laughs. As Armstrong is unveiled as a lier, doper and a cheat (by Hodgson excellently recreating the infamous Oprah interview) the young Kieran is left disillusioned, his mantra in shatters. But Hodgson gives the story a comic spin as he exposes his own performance for what it is - a show, for the entertainment of the audience, declaring "lying is magic!".
Whether you like cycling or not, this little one-hour one-man performance is like a shot of EPO in the arm - you'll leave reinvigorated and rejuvenated. Don't miss it!