Pear ★★★★

Pear demands you throw away your preconceptions of sketch-show comedy at the Fringe

There’s possibly a preconception about sketch shows, certainly when it comes to the Edinburgh Fringe.  They’re predominantly performed by posh Oxbridge students, badly written and even more poorly acted, aren’t they?  Well, not in the case of Pear which, as The Recs discovered, is an exceptional sketch show that very much challenges those particular assumptions.  Well, almost…


Written by, and featuring, a pair of statuesque identical twins – hence the title’s play on words – in the form of Hugo and Patrick McPherson, the show opens with the sort of avant-garde, cliché-ridden, drama school-esque performance piece that chills most observers to the bone.  Except this isn’t actually the opening, it’s merely a ruse.  Because the twins have invested their savings in hiring the services of Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (or “Sam Men-Desss” as he is affectionately referred to) for a couple of hours.  And the show-proper actually consists of a series of skits that follow Sam’s “ten commandments” on how to produce the perfect sketch show.  And so down the absurdist rabbit all we all go!

As the pair attempt to tick off each of the said, Mendes-derived, commandments the action bounces rapidly between scenarios.  The “actual” show commences with a highly amusing overview of what it’s like to deal with the seemingly-constantly occurring questioning of what it’s like to be a twin.  The preconception of the sketch genre being the reserve of upper-class actors is then hilariously dealt with as the McPherson’s endure an AI quiz to assess their level of privilege – being called “Patrick” reduces the score, “Hugo” sends it rocketing again. 

Surprise is injected into proceedings when a member of the audience is issued with a plastic rain poncho – to be named “Poncho” from that moment on – only to be escorted from the venue by one of the twins to be exposed to an “immersive, personalised, experience”.  Other scenes illustrate, by contrasting both the McPherson and Mendes versions, how much the original vignettes – focussing respectively on Nordic noir, and unrequited romance – have been improved by direction from an Oscar winner (could Mendes really have been involved?…). 

Mention must also be made of the sketches featuring the brothers as competing divorce lawyers, again including audience members to great effect, and a scenario involving a pair of gay ex-lovers at a séance.  In fact, the only part of the performance that maybe misses the mark is when the show’s actual director appears on stage for no more than a minute, in the guise of a bungling magician, which just seems superfluous compared to the rest of the material. Other than that, Pear delivers a highly engaging and splendidly delivered hour of humorous entertainment, reminiscent of Reeves and Mortimer and French and Saunders at their best.  Bury that sketch-related snobbery, and go and see it.

The McPherson brothers de-shame the Fringe sketch show format with Pear – and get a grateful ★★★★ (4 stars) from The Recs

Pear Tickets

Pear is playing at Underbelly, Cowgate Iron Belly  until 28 August

Book Tickets