his play about comedy double acts – or is it a comedy routine about theatre? – by Radio 4 gag-merchants The Pin, aka Ben Ashenden and Alex Owen, is the right pre-Christmas current. Unwrapping its layers of silliness, surrealism and the pretty boggling means it performs with perspective is half the pleasure. There’s actual heat and sweetness to it, and a deliriously ingenious chase sequence straight out of Scooby Doo.
Ashenden and Owen play “Ben” and “Alex”, a struggling younger double-act failing to interrupt by way of, and likewise Jimmy and Syd, a superannuated end-of-the-pier pair whose comeback tour they’re supporting. That the 2 partnerships can solely be informed aside by the dodgy northern accents and sparkly hats of the outdated codgers is considered one of many daft working gags that enlist the viewers’s complicity. It’s ‘meta’, as they are saying.
Alex is the child-like optimist, solely briefly chagrined every time he messes up a punchline, cue, or entrance. Ben is the uptight, tormented one who boasts of being within the forces (ParcelForce) and the Feds (FedEx) however is aware of failure.
Their makes an attempt to conjure up new materials are hopeless and really, very humorous. Then, when Alex by accident knocks out Syd, the help act seize their likelihood to impress the Hollywood director who simply occurs to be within the viewers of the tiny provincial theatre they’re in.
One of many nice delights of the present is the best way jokes are deconstructed, rebuilt, discarded and resurrected, getting larger laughs every time. The absurdity that’s there from the beginning ramps up because the duo swap the motion between onstage and backstage, swap tiny props for big ones, and enlist a well-known visitor star as a more-or-less witting confederate. Final evening, it was Katherine Parkinson, gamely submitting to mild humiliation and a tasering.
The Pin weren’t even born when the old-school double-acts had been supplanted by various comedy within the mid-80s, however this present brims with affection for that previous world, whereas retaining a unusual freshness all its personal. Its opening was initially put again by the second lockdown, then abruptly introduced ahead once more to this weekend by fears of London going into Tier three. If we don’t, e-book a ticket.