© Stuart Laws
Annie McGrath Videos
Twins: Two Balls In A Bag
Timing is everything. Last year, double act Twins were on at midday; this year they finish at midnight, and it seems like a move in the right direction: their sloppy knockabout is surely better suited to a high-spirited late-night crowd than an audience who’d care about slick performances and neat scripting.
Jack Barry and Annie McGrath haven’t yet struck the right balance between carefree anarchy and having a structure to hold it all together. They tie themselves in knots trying to square the needlessly complicated narrative they’ve set up, even though it’s all nonsense, while the many jokes about their own shoddy lack of professionalism can prove undermining when you’re still asking an audience to invest in the show.
But the tumultuous vibe is infectious, and the pair create a rough-and-tumble energy which they surf with their ridiculous antics. The looseness also meant they could deal with all the distractions their first Edinburgh performance could throw at them, from just about every sound cue misfiring, to the woman in the front row who very rudely, and very obviously, spent about 20 minutes unsuccessfully trying to persuade her daughter she should walk out with her. We could all see you, love.
The whole premise of the Twins act is that they are identical twins, which the pair make work through insistence alone – even when they need to be different genders. The set-up here is that their grandma has died, ‘peacefully… in the middle of being brutally murdered’ and other family members/suspects are assembled to determine the killer’s identity. And the man tasked with solving the crime, randomly enough, is Jeremy Bile, a talk-show host parody Barry describes, perhaps hopefully, as ‘derivative, but still relevant’.
It’s as good a way as any as smashing together various sketches, some strong, some decidedly not. We meet stereotypical Australian cousins, Jack and Annie’s parents (whose misguided comments on their comedy are apparently drawn from real life) and hear the characters’ inner monologues in voiceover.
The vibe is silly and puerile, with a plentiful seam of childishly dirty jokes – though again they don’t know quite where to stop; the incest storyline is definitely a bit ikky despite being played, like everything else, for stupidity.
And beneath all the chaos of ‘sexy’ dancing, audience interaction and manic character changes lies some sharp jokes – silliness dependent on a smart use of language that proves that sometimes there’s more to the Twins than the daft larking about that they project, even if the show paradoxically needs some refinement to best harness its very lack of refinement.
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