This review was originally written for EdFringeReview.com
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.