Harry the Horse, a narrated tale-cum-synthesizer opus-cum-mime show performed at the Exploratorium on Nov. 21, was a first-rate tickler of the fancy and the eardrum.
Harry is a story (ostensibly a children's story) about a funky horse-player whose luck is insured by a magic betting-ticket. harry is put through some changes by his serendipity, but he comes out all right, you bet. he turns out to be a good bourgeois, but manages all the same to take a bundle off of one J. J. McMoney, Spoiled Aristocrat.
The story is written and narrated on tape, replete with characters, by Bill Morgan, has a city beat. For instance, Harry celebrates his 46th birthday alone in his rented room with "a Twinkie and a bottle of cheap sweet wine." Mr. Morgan has a fine feel for the rhythm of a story line; and his voice can be outrageously fruity and funny when he wants it to be.
The story was set to sounds by Bob Davis, working with a Buchla synthesizer. These sounds served both to illustrate (head-scratching noises, yo-yo noises, and the like) and to elevate the story into occasional flashes of both seriousness and surrealism. Mr. Davis' sound effects work: his audial descriptions of physical and mental processes are usually evocative, sometimes funny and generally qualify as musical. He transmogrifies his Harry theme, for instance, variously into states of contentment, exultation and wracking depression. Mr. Davis, who studies and teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, works with Alden Jenks and John Adams, and has obviously acquired a working knowledge of how to interest an ear (EAR?).
The visual part of the show was taken care of by Peter Kors, a mime, working in front of a white screen with a small chair as prop. Mr. Kors sustained a strong continuous line throughout, following the tape's rhythm closely and amplifying the story with convincing skill. He often made me laugh. You must see him trying to 'walk the dog' with an invisible yo-yo to believe it.
Harry is the first production of this troupe, which calls itself Homer and the Electric Lyre. Judging from the audience's and my own reaction, they will find any future pieces received with open ears. -J. Garlick p.11