Review - The Horne Section at the Lyric Theatre

March 08, 2011



Michael Jackson Musical 'Thriller' and Alex Horne's Jazz comedy mash-up The Horne Section are odd bedfellows - or theatre fellows; surely there can't be much of a crossover between their audiences? And it's odd to think that the same theatre that plays host to an earnest tribute to the King of Pop, is also the place where slightly shabby, muttering, lo-fi comedian Alex Horne (with the help of his Horne Section) dryly plays a game of audience Battleships, occasionally launching into an utterly inspired song of the same name. It's emblematic of the entire show; inventive, bizarre and so funny you'll be laughing at it for days afterwards. Just the thought of Horne semi-dancing to the band's power-rock ode to "Big Canoes" and "Frigates", is enough to make anyone shake with poorly suppressed laughter.

Not content with mixing comedy and music "for the first time", The Horne Section crashes a third vehicle into this genre pile-up and introduces old fashioned variety into the mix. A capella groups, poetry, a few classic party tricks and even a medley give the show the feel of a modern day music hall. The various acts incorporate the eponymous Horne section to create what we're promised are completely unique performances; but even if that's a bit of an exaggeration, there's still an atmosphere of spontaneity as poet Paul Hamilton (or"The Actor Kevin Eldon") demands the band "think Robbie Coltrane!" when accompanying his poetry.

Sternberg Clarke acts even got a look in; a capella group The Magnets delighted the audience with an all vocal  A-Z quiz of movie theme tunes and Gentleman Juggler Matt Ricardo (See Video Above) put a gentlemanly spin on the old "tablecloth trick". David O'Doherty rounded out the line up with his battery operated keyboard and endearingly unhinged songs, the content of which would be a shame to spoil.

But it's Horne and his Section that really bring the whole evening together; the real appeal of the whole endeavour is the mixture of Alex Horne's self professed ignorance of music and his band's genuine talent - Horne acts as a bewildered audience surrogate, gleefully prodding and poking the musicians around him to see what they can and can't do in a way that a regular Musician/Comedian like Bill Bailey or Tim Minchin couldn't really get away with.

The Horne Section are also able to put together a corporate/team building performance, working in games of battleships and various other musical tasks to act as the ultimate icebreaker (You may have missed what I did there, Icebreaker? Icebreaker.) As a teambuilding activity, it's a far cry from the usual catching people when they fall backwards or building a bridge out of paper.

Check out the Horne Section Website for Future Dates