Ten Seconds With The Pin is, in fact, an hour of joyous unpredictability. This is meta sketch comedy, which quickly becomes apparent. But the genius is in the way they observe and send up their genre; it's so unexpected and unfathomable that you will almost never be able to guess what may be round the next corner.
Ben Ashenden and Alex Owen, aka The Pin, offset each other well. Initially Owen presents as the confident, stagey one, while Ashenden offers a geeky, giggly awkwardness and enthusiasm, which he shares with the audience in almost conspiratorial facial and physical expressions. I find myself much more on board with his subtle yet involving style; he comes over as the more interesting performer and the better actor. But things are not as they seem, and Owen's larger stage persona gives way over the course of the piece, uncovering a great deal of light and shade when he comes out of character. It reveals some fantastic moments of his own (acted) awkwardness, and lack of the finesse he is aiming for.
Both comics dip in and out of 'the show' and 'reality'. Here we have two very astute guys, who have written and are performing a layered sketch show about two guys with little awareness, apparently devising while performing a pretty awful work in progress; which, by the way, they are also presenting as a kind of masterclass in sketch comedy, going in and out of the characters the characters are playing and explaining to us how the genre works as they go along.
Confused? You won't be. Ashenden and Owen have the knack of making that which is tricky appear effortless. The pair don't miss a beat, and even take the opportunity to send up the very premise of their potentially confusing set-up, using pre recorded videos of their shows to create an infinite show-within-a-show loop of their act.
The Pin are anything but obvious in their approach; this is a bold satire of sketch comedy and theatrical conventions. Much of the acting is subtle, holding a sense of realism amidst its absurdity, and the show flows with a dance-like precision and grace beneath a surface of pseudo-clumsiness. Every gesture, word and expression is finely tuned and timed perfectly. Almost imperceptibly, the performers rotate around the stage, regularly changing places to ensure each area of the audience is receiving a full and balanced performance.
Sketches about sketches may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they don't come much better than this. This is a quirky adventure of surprise, superb comic acting, and beguiling ridiculousness; it's a winning combination.