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Alex Horne: Seven Years in the Bathroom
Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011
3

3 stars

Pleasance Dome (venue website)
Comedy
3-14, 16-28 Aug, 8:20pm-9:20pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Alex Horne is a past master of using audiovisual technology to give extra form to his funny.  Taking its inspiration from everything an average man does in his life, this show uses not just PowerPoint projections, but a microwave, an easel, and an hour glass.  These props – and several members of the audience – are deployed to intricate effect to reconstruct the life of this imaginary man; condensing his life into an hour and rearranging the experience in alphabetical order.

Doing both these things at once – putting all the time spent doing one thing into a block and scaling that block for an hour long life – didn’t quite work. It felt clunky when one moment Horne was talking about the number of years spent eating, and the next he was talking in minutes.

However, the show had some nice moments.  A silly opening gag about his costume eased us in, and the tumult of audience participation – which Horne managed like a ring master – made us feel like a secret club, all in this together. A stand out moment was the quick scrolling screen of life’s activities that the average man simply spends too little time doing for them to make an impression in a hour-long condensed life. It was impossible to do more than pick out quirky gems from the list and listen to audience members call out their favourites.

Incidentally, for most of the show I assumed that famed wordsmith Horne was using the phrase ‘the average man’ as some kind of genderless universal, especially as he used the word ‘we’ a lot too. But towards the end of the show he made it clear that he did actually mean males, as in the less fair sex, by pointing out some ways in which women’s average statistics vary. And he then took the opportunity to do a few lazy, sexist jokes. Thanks for that; you really shouldn’t have.

But actually, while not my favourite thing ever, that wasn’t the problem with this show. The problem is that it never transcends itself. The technical intricacy was admirable but it felt soulless. In the end, the observation that, if we did it all at once, we would sleep for quite a long time is pretty trite.

Often with shows that take a bold, simplistic concept and pursue it to its ridiculous frayed ends, there comes a point where the piece lifts and becomes about some more universal. The trouble here is that the show is already purports to be about something universal, and so remains, stubbornly, frustratingly, nothing more than the exact sum of its parts.

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