Alex Horne: Every Body Talks

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

For the first ten minutes of Alex Horne's quirky, unique show and I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. What I did know was that I loved it.

Ostensibly a discussion about body language, he employs the advice contained in a brochure he found on staging the perfect seminar to fully involve his delegates, us, in the exchange of information.

So he starts out to explore the themes of non-verbal communication, using the behaviour of audience members as examples. You can see how the show would unveil from here ­ and that's exactly what doesn't happen, as any expectations you may have of themes and structure are thrown recklessly to the wind.

Every Body Talks does have its own internal logic, but its unexpected twists and turns continually wrongfoot the audience, and delightfully so. Like a fairground ride, you have to trust yourself to its workmanship and enjoy the thrills of the journey.

Horne rewrites the rules of audience interaction, teasing, manipulating and disconcerting his punters in equal measure, but always with the most benevolent of intent.

It's all wonderfully underplayed, not quite deadpan, but more stilted and uneasy, as if a half-competent middle manager was attempting to deliver a slick corporate presentation ­ which is just the right tone for a seminar.

Take the PowerPoint presentations that have become a staple of Edinburgh shows. Horne seems instead to only be able to afford cheaper generic software, complete with hideous clip art. But he uses it so much better ­ improvising the graphics on the fly with the help of his long-suffering sidekick Tim Key, and even providing multimedia heckle put-downs.

The whole show evolves semi-organically, with proceedings falling as if naturally into the complex template Horne dreamed up.

It's inventive, unusual stuff which almost defies description. But it wouldn't be all that much of an overstatement to say Horne hasn't just created a show, but a state of mind.

The concept is ambitious, the execution delightful and the atmosphere charming. Put simply, Every Body Talks is unlike anything else you will see on the Fringe ­ which is exactly why you should go.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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