The Pin: Backstage (4 stars)

The Pin: Backstage

credit: Zero Degrees West

Communication breaks down in the duo's latest innovative delight

In the same room where Joseph Morpurgo last year went all meta in his after-show Q&A session Hammerhead, The Pin pair of Alex Owen and Ben Ashenden deliver a similarly postmodern treat. The conceit for Backstage is that they are the support act for a more seasoned twosome of old-school campaigners, Philip and Robin. After doing their warm-up, a typically Pin-like ten minutes of sketches featuring a superb array of communication breakdowns, they go backstage to ponder their existence, wondering if they will ever be the main attractions.

A large curtain becomes the dividing line between onstage and behind-the-scenes. As you can easily imagine, the seams between those two worlds begin to slowly fray until the lines are not so much blurred as totally obliterated, with Philip and Robin making their presence known while Ashenden and Owen race around to keep up with themselves and their alter egos. But which pairing will end up being onstage at the end?

The laying out of this meta construct, impressive as it is, could only really take this show so far. Ashenden and Owen's subtly brilliant chemistry and the routines they concoct are the things that really make a Pin show stick. And here the gags and skits are excellent, with a confusing job advert, a three-page script with the middle page missing, and the reading of a new Scandi drama all involved. When something goes wrong (it always does), it's mainly down to a 'harmless mix-up'.

While there's not so much of the obvious double-act trope where one member is trying to undermine the other, it's still clear that Ashenden is portraying the more clinical, mature half to Owen's giggly, naïve 50 percenter. And as a totality in Backstage, their writing and performances combine like a dream.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug (not 11), 8pm, £9.50–£12.50 (£8.50–£11).

The Pin: Backstage

  • 4 stars

After three multi award-winning series on BBC Radio 4, "the next Mitchell and Webb" (Times) are back with a brand-new show that's "hysterical" (Independent), "masterful" (Sunday Times), and "gorgeously skewed" (Guardian). Expect a "very classy, very funny" (Telegraph) hour from the creators of BBC Three's Oi, Leonardo!

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