Alex Horne: Monsieur Butterfly @ Pleasance Two
Alex Horne is a high-concept comedian – if he even is a comedian, as he ponders, halfway through constructing a needlessly complex Rube Goldberg machine on stage.
Having built a career on bizarrely challenging shows, including the brilliantly whimsical We Need Answers, what Horne pulls out the bag (literally) next is always going to keep people on tenterhooks. With Monsieur Butterfly he has found the perfect vehicle for his Kafkaesque reinterpretation of light entertainment.
Inspired by childhood games of Mousetrap, Horne spends the entire show fiddling about with pivots and counterweights to get the machine ready for the finale. Building the contraption lays bare the linear mechanics of the gameshow format, picking people from the audience to perform inconsequential tasks that make little impact on the ultimate outcome of the process.
The spectacle of seeing an impossible machine slowly appear before your eyes is padded out by Horne’s phenomenal ability to engage and manipulate an audience. Once he has his assistants onstage the whole thing starts to feel like a corporate teambuilding workshop devised by a man regressing to the fantasy world of an eight-year-old.
The show also sets out to answer some of life’s big questions; the efficacy of a sparrow in a perfectly designed system to unleash a catastrophic butterfly effect across the Netherlands being just one. If it is scale you want then Horne will provide it by the shed load. If it is absurdly contrived attempts to fire toy arrows through a toilet seat suspended from the ceiling, he provides that too. Alex Horne is a man with all the world at his fingertips – and a wonderful world it is.