Twins: Pret A Comedy

Fri 7th – Sun 30th August 2015


Chloe St George

at 06:12 on 23rd Aug 2015



It is midnight and it is raining torrentially. Yet somehow spirits are still high in the Beside studio of Pleasance Courtyard. Perhaps it’s the Destiny’s Child blasting into the room; perhaps some of the audience members have had a bit to drink, or perhaps, like me, others have seen Annie McGrath, one half of the comedy duo Twins, in another of her fringe shows, and know that they are in safe, hilarious hands.

The duo, made up of McGrath and her ‘twin’ Jack Barry, first take the stage as warm-up act Wack and Wannie, to keep the energy levels in the room high. They know it’s late, they tell us. What follows, when the Twins come on stage, is not quite a sketch show, not quite character comedy and not quite improv, but a combination of all three. There’s even some Hall and Oates in there.

They use parody to mock generic film trailers, plays that take themselves too seriously and classic superheroes (watch out for the reason behind Self-Esteem man’s transformation). They also have a flair for perfectly cutting short silliness with deadpan punchlines too, which makes for an unpredictable and fast-paced show. Discussion of twin telepathy may be a joke, but the pair are very much in sync.

As they slip frequently out of their rehearsed routine, often to point out their own (otherwise unnoticeable) mistakes, they are irresistibly likeable. But make no mistake, Jack and Annie know what they are doing, and are as comfortably in control when improvising as when sticking to the scripted material. Such is their control that as soon as I start to formulate a criticism in my mind - to do with the title of the show - and they have pointed it out themselves already, to howls of laughter. The result of all this is a performance which feels playful, vibrant and never for a moment dragging.

Watching Twins is undoubtedly the hardest I have laughed at the fringe so far. I expect, though I cannot be sure, that the man who had to leave the show temporarily with the parting words " it's so funny I’m going to wet myself" would say something similar…


Fergus Morgan

at 10:46 on 23rd Aug 2015



Twins are probably the most apathetic sketch group you’ll ever see. In their new show, Pret A Comedy, they don’t bother with elaborate costumes, they don’t bother with many props, they don’t even bother with tightly-crafted scripts; in fact, they hardly bother at all. And, paradoxically, it is hilarious.

Annie McGrath and Jack Barry, the ‘twins’ who make up the duo, simply stand around aimlessly chatting on stage, occasionally galvanising themselves into performing a short skit. They seem entirely indifferent to the audience’s and entirely unconcerned with the show’s lack of sophistication. But behind this indolent façade, one suspects, lies two razor-sharp comedy minds.

First appearing to the audience as Wack and Wannie, the persecuted warm-up acts for Jack and Annie, poorly disguised in flowery shirts and off-kilter wigs, McGrath and Barry proceed to introduce themselves with already flagging gusto. We quickly learn that Barry only has an hour to live, so he finds his bucket list, conveniently scribbled on a whiteboard backstage, and the remainder of the show is devoted to Barry’s attempts to tick everything off the list, in somewhat make-do fashion.

He doesn’t have time to go to Vegas, so Vegas – or an incredibly lacklustre, ill-informed imitation of it – is brought to him. He doesn’t have time to go horse-riding, so he rides a member of the audience instead. He doesn’t have time to break a world record either, or to become a hero, or to see the Northern Lights, or to fall in love. So he makes do, with the assistance of McGrath throughout – except when she ducks behind the scant curtain to reappear sporting a sombrero and a moustache as the Rude Bandito, a Mexican supervillain who flings half-arsed insults at the audience.

These mini-sketches are actually fairly witty, but what makes them – and the rest of the show – so enjoyable is the self-awareness McGrath and Barry display. Unafraid of corpsing, of improvising, of making tired asides, they are so charmingly laissez-faire on stage that the audience cannot help falling in love with their act.

This is an inspired concept for a sketch show – a purposeful imitation of imperfection that is uniquely perfect in its own way. It’s as if you are watching two grown-up children perform for their parents, but although they have learned swear-words and innuendo, and become weighed down by the world, they have clung on to their innocence and imagination. Their humour is somehow simultaneously intelligent and childish.

McGrath and Barry, despite their façade, are two talented comedians and Pret A Comedy is disconcerting, refreshing, enchanting and brilliantly, brilliantly funny.


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