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I Found My Horn
Published on Wednesday, 12 May 2010

I recommend you book tickets now for this hugely entertaining, funny and engaging play, which Brighton is privileged to see performed again twice on 23 May.

Jasper Rees hits 40, and responds to a ‘has my life come to this’ stage – prompted by his divorce – by picking up again the French horn he played as a boy. Based on Rees’s book of the same title, the play tells the story of his new lease of life, through an exploration of a childhood in which playing the horn featured large. Jonathan Guy Lewis’s brave and unabashed performance is a persuasive pitch for the fulfilment to be found in fresh pursuit of a creative challenge.

Play the French horn wouldn’t be everyone’s choice… but no matter.  I’d be surprised if anyone felt excluded; Lewis was utterly confident in his delivery, combining eye contact with members of the audience (so that I felt he was performing to me personally) with a distance sufficient to produce a brave and unselfconscious performance. This is an awesome talent, admittedly useful to an actor who was revealed by the opening spotlight to be standing in his underwear clutching the horn to his crotch. There is nothing which is cheap about this stunt, by the way; the ease with which Lewis presented his vulnerability made me feel I was in safe hands, and settle into the performance with more than an idle curiosity.

Rees energetically performed single-handed, displaying admirable skill in his character impersonation. With a bare minimum of props he became his 12 year old ‘am I bovvered’ son, his rather posh childhood music teacher and enthusiastic leader of horn camp. Each character was totally believable and convincing, and might actually have been on stage with the youthful and the adult Reeses, also performed by Lewis with aplomb.  The music which is at the centre of the play also provides the background soundtrack, to pleasing Sunday-afternoon effect.

We grow up experiencing the joy of learning new skills; too often we become serious adults, who forget our creative talents and deny ourselves such joy. I say, see this play and use Rees’s rite of passage to rekindle an old flame of your own.  Or go along for a laugh and a thoroughly enjoyable piece of sheer entertainment. The ticket price is higher than some other recommended performances – but all proceeds go to Maternity Worldwide’s efforts to save women’s lives in countries with high rates of death in childbirth.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.