Alex Horne puts on 'delight of a show' at Edinburgh's Pleasance Courtyard

Edinburgh Festival 2014: Horne is building a reputation as a Fringe maverick

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The Independent Culture

"Even if you don't like it, you're not going to leave before the end," says Alex Horne a little way into his show.

He plans to spend the hour on stage building an elaborate contraption - involving ladders, bowling balls, a balloon, a blow-up mattress, some rice and many, many planks of wood - which will only be set in motion at the climax.

It's one way to keep the audience hooked, but they would probably stay anyway: this is a delight of a show. 

Horne is building a reputation for being a Fringe maverick. Nominated for the Perrier Award in 2003, his shows have moved ever further from traditional stand-up.

Last year, he mimed half of his hour. This year, he has raided DIY store Wickes to pay homage to his hero, Rube Goldberg, inventor of nutty, over-complicated machines to perform the simplest tasks.


The real joy of the show, though, is not in the building of the machine - a fairly chaotic enterprise - nor the excellently eccentric soundtrack, but the way Horne sneaks his comedy in under the radar as he fiddles about with pipes and funnels.

Offbeat insights - how he'd like to make his gravestone into a crazy golf hole, for example - mingle with daft audience interaction, which allows his affable comic skill to shine. Surreal and silly, it's like spending an hour inside a Roald Dahl book.

It all very nearly comes together in the end, with a rather touching tribute to fatherhood. Unlike Goldberg, Horne has made something quite complex look easy.