They put the wow factor into panto and are proud to sport matching funky hairstyles. DAVID WHETSTONE meets the hard-working bosses of Twins Worldwide
GARY and Paul, Paul and Gary... they share a surname, Hardy-Brown, and a good deal more besides. Over a coffee at the Theatre Royal, the special effects wizards are explaining some of the implications of being identical twins.
“I’ve just had a small child and my DNA is exactly the same as Paul’s,” says Gary.
“If you did a paternity test, you couldn’t categorically say who was the father.”
This potentially devastating assertion clearly fascinates the pair of them – likewise the theoretical situation that if one of them committed murder, either of them could be the culprit.
Their appearance, of course, is a recipe for confusion wherever they go.
At the moment they are whizzing around theatres the length and breadth of the land, checking out the “wow” moment special effects they have created for pantomimes.
Paul says he went to Bradford the other day and was greeted in exuberant fashion by a succession of theatre staff who he’d never seen in his life.
Only when he explained that he was Paul and not Gary, who had in fact been working with the Bradford staff, did the penny drop.
Ah, said the bunch of strangers. So that was why he’d looked a bit bemused at their enthusiastic greetings. Well, at least they didn’t curse and throw popcorn at him.
Now “coming up to 39”, the pair have had plenty of time to get used to every facet of twinhood.
“We’ve had a few tests for various researchers,” says Gary. “The one we really wanted to do was for Nasa – for six months.
“They wanted to put us through various tests on how the body reacts to weightlessness.”
The idea was that one of them would go up in the plane that simulates the conditions of space while the other remained on the ground. Comparisons would then be made.
To their dismay a job came up that they reckoned they couldn’t afford to refuse – a two-year contract to work on a show at the “massive” Benidorm Palace.
Today, as Twins Worldwide Ltd, the pair are hugely in demand and exceptionally busy.
Currently contracted to panto producers Qdos, they have contributed to the last three pantos at the Theatre Royal, including this year’s. The stunning ‘flying’ car and the giant spider are products of their special effects workshop in Wareham, Dorset, where they both live and where they grew up.
They take me right back to where it all began – a hospital maternity ward.
“Our first magic trick was when my mother went for her scan and they told her there was one child in the womb,” says Gary. “In the delivery room she had me and was being wheeled away when she said, ‘I think there might be some complications because there’s still a lot of pain’. Twenty minutes later, out came Paul.”