Statistics please self-professed geek, the affable and impressively bearded Alex Horne.
In his one man show stats dictate the structure — one average man’s life condensed into an hour and presented activity by activity in alphabetical order through a not entirely seamless mixture of Keynote presentation, enactment, simulation and audience participation.
As the years clock up from birth to 79, Horne mounts a mammoth effort to keep on top of his punishing schedule. A strict countdown soundtrack, replete with alarm bells and timely warnings of imminent tasks to attend to, is a harsh taskmaster. He’s not helped by a recalcitrant Monday night audience which wastes valuable showtime dithering about whether or not to volunteer.
But involvement in this process is gentle and respectful, whether the brave souls react as expected or totally confound the time-bound performer. His self-deprecating ‘for the sake of the show’ appeals melt a core of front row hearts who eventually allow themselves to help the poor man out.
Demonstrating 24 years of marriage is a breeze compared to housework, given the punter picked makes us all laugh but loses Horne about 30 minutes of material. Other helpers are brilliant, squirting onion juice in Horne’s eye, telephoning a brother to deliver a scripted and most unusual voicemail message, happily painting the comedian’s portrait in his shin-exposing bathrobe or giving in to a lengthy nap on stage.
Alex Horne’s immediate air of amiability means you’re rooting for him throughout. There’s also an excellent personal story to be heard here as a humane counterpoint to the artificial march of condensed time but, unfortunately, if the show goes off-tempo, there’s a danger this is lost until right at the very end. But you’ll forgive every unfinished life-stage demonstration, any loss of nuked Rustler burger and will ultimately only lament the portions he has to skip because someone ran off with his Bovril.
By the end of this week, with a packed house and a more up-for-it, end-of-week kind of audience, this show will be bang on: heartwarming, hilarious and hectic. Go, be kind, think about your life, and please don’t be afraid to lend the man a hand.
Seven Years In The Bathroom is at Soho Theatre all week, last show on Saturday 17 March at 9.30pm. Tickets £10/£15.