There are plenty of late-night Fringe shows where comedians can
exploit a hidden talent, but
few can be more enjoyable than The Horne
Section. Compered by affable host Alex Horne and
held in the glorious setting of the Spiegeltent, the show features
several guest acts each
night, to be accompanied in their endeavours by the house band
(the eponymous 'Section').
The night of this review, those guests were Canadian comic Phil
Nichol, 'funniest man in
France' Marcel Lucont, and pub landlord Al Murray.
Nichol fared well; he made good use of the band, challenging them
to play metal and
Norwegian trip-hop, and elicited an enthusiastic crowd singalong
of "The Only Gay Eskimo".
Lucont's low-key French arrogance seemed to miss the mark somehow,
though he did succeed in
crowdsurfing his way out of the Spiegeltent. Al Murray took us on
a typically xenophobic
trip around the world, with the aid of an inflatable globe and
off-the-cuff musical backing by the band.
The real stars of the show, however, are The Horne Section
themselves. Joe Stilgoe (piano),
Ben Reynolds (drums), Will Collier (bass), Mark Brown (saxophone)
and Joe Auckland (trumpet)
show astonishing musical dexterity, working their way from samba
tunes to the sounds of a
Swiss cuckoo clock via the French national anthem. Their own,
guest act-free song confessing
their true musical ambition is probably the highlight of the
The Horne Section have already graced The Lyric on Shaftesbury
Avenue; on current form, it
won't be too long before they return to the West End.