The Pin (5 stars)

Reinventing sketch comedy before our very eyes at 2014 Edinburgh Fringe


This article is from 2014.

The Pin

There some sketch acts who try so hard to do something innovative with the form that they forget to put in the laughs while others write perfectly amusing but conventional routines which make themselves instantly forgettable. The Pin have come up with the rather brilliant idea of doing both. For a full, blistering hour.

Caught in one of the major downpours over the Fringe’s first weekend, the Pin queue was made to shelter for a further ten minutes while some hitches were ironed out inside. Any foul moods which were marched into the venue soon dissipated on sight of Alex Owen and Ben Ashenden awaiting them; the latter offered hugs and smiles while the former concentrated hard on finishing off a script which flashed up on the screen behind him.

This script acts as the key to unlock a series of sketches which are played for laughs, certainly, but those laughs come mainly from the way the pair bend, cut and remould the way we think about sketch comedy. There isn’t a single routine put in purely for the sake of it: each one has innovation and imagination stamped full in its face. The content is only part of this show’s story, but if that’s what you need from a review, here you go: there’s a screened sequence with their identical twins, a confusion over Ant and Dec, and a bike shop encounter with a layered subtext. None of which gets even close to hinting at what they end up doing with that raw material.

For last year’s debut as a duo, Ashenden and Owen played the by-now standard power games within a sketch team. This time, they are equals on stage, setting aside that time to do far more exciting things with their chosen artform. In the Pin’s hands, the future of sketch might already be here.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 25 Aug (not 11, 18), 6pm, £9-£11 (£8-£10).

This article is from 2014.

The Pin

  • 5 stars

The Pleasance The Pin are Ben Ashenden and Alex Owen. They had two sold out runs at the Fringe in 2012 and 2013, won the award for Best Show at the 2013 London Sketchfest and there's a slim chance you'll have seen them knocking around on BBC3, ITV and Channel 4. Now they're back with an hour of guff. ‘So sharply…


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