A man is going through almost a lifetime’s accumulation of important junk in his attic. The clearout has been prompted by his recent divorce. As he moves a box he sees the instrument case that contains the French horn that defeated him thirty-nine years ago and which he never put to his lips again. Now he is consumed by distant memories, thoughts of missed opportunities and the question, “To play, or not to play?”
A delightfully comforting and uplifting theatrical experience
I Found My Horn at the cosy White Bear Theatre (and excellent pub) is a delightful solo performance by Jonathan Guy Lewis (Jasper) who wrote the piece in conjunction with Jasper Rees on whose book of the same name it is based. The play has done the rounds, having premiered at the 2008 Aldeburgh Festival before going to the West End, New York and Los Angeles, such has been it’s success and appeal
On the smallest of stages Designer Alex Marker has created a work of art that is immediately captivating and inviting. We’ve all known a space like this, with dust-sheets scattered over treasures that are not valued enough to be put on display, but to which we are too attached to throw away. A palette of pastel colours brighten the loft, the tones enhanced by Lighting Designer Chuma Emembolu who has also created some memorable moments. The teamwork and sensitive direction by Harry Burton is self-evident.
The French horn, once removed from its case, takes on a life of its own. It was a acquired in the old Czechoslovakia and so, in a suitable accent Jasper converses with it. It’s one of many voices Lewis adopts to take us on a journey involving a summer camp in the USA, conductors, teachers and old friends with regional and idiosyncratic accents, including his teenage son who is full of adolescent attitude and a source of some amusement, as indeed are many of the others.
Picking up his old hobby escalates to a new level when he attends the annual concert of the British Horn Society and takes advice on how to prepare himself for the following year’s concert at which he has boldly, and at this stage foolishly, promised to play Mozart's Horn Concerto No3; a piece he remembers from his childhood. To the accompaniment of some two dozen snippets of horn music we follow the ups and mostly downs of his literally embracing the horn again. Lewis’s delightful conversational manner is absorbing and engaging throughout. His tales are full of humour and there is the final joy of appreciating that he is also an accomplished horn player.
I Found My Horn is a delightfully comforting and uplifting theatrical experience that leaves one’s head full of memorable tunes and the soul deeply rewarded by a fine performance.