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Fringe Comedy: ‘Pear’ provides double the trouble, double the laughs

There are a few benefits to presenting sketch comedy in comparison to standup – for both performer and audience. Sketch comedy is more dynamic, giving the artist the opportunity to move around the stage rather than stand still like a cardboard cut-out. The subject matter can vary greatly from skit to skit, whereas standup often sticks to a singular theme – the title of a show often giving that theme away.

When you add to a sketch show a performer who shares your brand of quick wit and dry humour – and when that performer happens to be your twin brother – things start to get very surreal.

‘Pear’ is a homophone for ‘pair’ – in this case a pair of siblings, Hugo and Patrick McPherson, who have been able to compare and contrast with one other all the absurdities life presents, and all the way back since birth.

The brothers play on the myth that one twin is always smarter than the other; one is often wittier; one more serious than the other, and so on. Watching these differences – sometimes in the form of rivalry – play out on stage by two 6’7″ identical twins is surreal to see. But there’s also revelry in the mix, with the brothers sharing a similar sense of irony and a talent to deliver any kind of comedy, from the slapstick to the cerebral.

So in synch are these guys – who hail from England but were born in Australia – it’s like watching The Two Ronnies or French and Saunders in action. In fact, I’m surprised this talented duo don’t have their own show on Netflix.

Hugo plays more of the straight guy – and not just because of his cis sexual inclination – while Patrick flirts more with ambiguity, occasionally injecting elements of pantomime piss-take into his performance.

Despite their subtle differences in comic delivery, the brothers’ bond is a strong one and the show is very well crafted, its premise being to present a program that follows a strict checklist provided to the lads by Hollywood director Sam Mendes (who may or may not have actually provided this checklist but, heck, just go with it and you’ll find real joy).

While Pear is for the most part a comedy production, the show gives the brothers a chance to express their other talents, with a little serious acting thrown in (bordering on the Shakespearean) juxtaposed with some freeform Dada absurdity.

There are a couple of moments where the content appears somewhat orchestrated – scripted even – but that’s par for the course with sketch shows. Even the best of the comedic bunch (eg: French and Saunders) occasionally come across as contrived… where a skit just cannot be delivered without some kind of structure.

When all is said, Pear is a top-tier production that lends this year’s Fringe World Festival a credible, international touch. More of this brilliant stuff, please.


Antonino Tati

‘Pear’ is on at The Chalet, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge until February 19. Tickets are available at www.fringeworld.com.au.

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