Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Family centred fun with amusing tunes, lots of chance to get the kids on stage and plenty more opportunities to make a complete fool of yourself
The Horne Section is Alex Horne’s baby, blending his comic skills with that of a band of musicians including keyboard, drums, base, brass and wind. Normally nocturnal (their sell-out show is on at 10.30pm through to 25 August in the same venue), they’ve bravely dipped their collective toes into the wild waters of children’s entertainment for a week with this bright and early 10am family bash.
And we had plenty of families trooping into the cavernous Underbelly Cow at Bristo Square today – the young, the old and the multi-generational, from squawking babes-in-arms to a Granny plus zimmer frame (which makes a great dance partner in the absence of an appropriately mobile gentleman, by the way).
The impressive Alex Horne had clearly worked out that the way to grab and hold such a disparately aged audience was to get them involved from the first note onwards. So we had an improvised song which got us whistling, grunting, clapping, stomping the feet, singing, shouting, lip licking and generally making a considerable din that was roughly in time with the notes being hammered out by the long-suffering musicians. It’s a bit like ‘Simon Says’, but to music and absolutely perfect for kids, and uninhibited adults of course.
This was followed up by a couple of pun laden songs, one of which featured dinosaurs, a perennial kids favourite. The band was then ‘conducted’ with a variety of devices, including a ping-pong bat and ball, space hopper, balloon, beach ball and trampoline. And if you want to see how that works, go see the show! But it guaranteed that all the youngsters got right into the music and it holds their attention, always a key to ensuring that the show stays on track. Well roughly.
Pulling an improv song together, note by audience-inspired note, live on stage was also quite a dangerous exercise to undertake, particularly as the supposedly young and innocent had some far from appropriate suggestions at one point (with the miscreant being roundly clipped on the ear by his mother for his pains – honestly, the younger generation!) but decency prevailed in the end and the result, when sung by the audience, was surprisingly in tune and the accompaniment complementary, rather than competitive.
All told, this was a brave move by The Horne Section, and it worked. Young children have few, if any inhibitions. One little lad, Solomon, invited up on stage just to play a blow up sax, ended up staying for the rest of the show, totally oblivious to what was going on around him but quite content, mingling with musicians and audience alike. Coping with that was one thing, but coaxing up and dealing with the more inhibited teens and pre-teens was also something Horne handled with considerable dexterity and equanimity. He’s clearly got all the skills to handle this type of audience – plenty of patter, lots of great one-liners, a great sense of the ridiculous and an air of calm and tolerance that encourages participation. It’s a show I’d really recommend to anyone with a young family or, indeed, anyone with a sense of the ridiculous!