The Pajama Men is a comedy duo comprised of Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez. The two met in high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico while auditioning for an improv team and have been developing their own special brand of comedy ever since. This show, Just The Two of Each of Us has already thrilled audiences at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
As the lights dim, we cast our eyes on the sparse stage filled only with two chairs, a keyboard and a guitar. The Pajama Men enter wearing pyjamas (Pajamas in US English), as you would expect, with comfortable socks in strong colours. What follows starts out as the two standing there throwing out dry and deadpan lines, before starting what appears to be a sketch comedy, switching rapidly between characters and situations, one more bizarre than the other.
We have people running from beasts, actors warming up, a medieval king with his servant, a rather awkward date due to the frequent failures of a fake arm, a larger than life man with a motorcycle to whom everything is ‘Too easy!’, cops, horses, a gay couple having a ridiculous argument and eventually a monster – it’s impossible to really describe as it’s pure physical comedy. The two play with accents, different voices, sound effects and situations that are absurd. One scenario is two characters in a boat – one passed out, the other one rowing. The rower makes the sound of something dropping into water, he has lost his oar. Another is a conversation between two horses where one gets a bit more friendly than the other one appreciates.
The Pajama Men are joined on stage by a musician who sets the musical backdrop to their crazy antics, and somehow manages to not draw attention to himself by cracking up at the madness in front of him – which is more than I can say for the Pajama Men themselves, who frequently crack each other up. Of course, when you have a show that relies this heavily on improv, unexpected things will always happen. This is a show that clearly evolves night by night, and the two comedians push each other as far as they possibly can. One has to wonder if it eventually will go that one step too far and lose the audience by being too self-indulgent in the improv, but I suspect if that ever did happen, they’d manage to reel themselves back in and continue on down the narrative path.
Because there is a narrative, all the crazy threads start coming together and you realise not only is there a storyline, but the image on the show poster is a very accurate depiction of the show. The Pajama Men are playing with little figures like children, creating a bizarre but charming world that is at the same time unreal and very logical. It’s a bit like the kind of story a child might write with their toys that are from different sets and don’t really go together in an obvious way, but they’ll make fun out of it anyway. The show is a bit like that, it’s two grown men playing, and we get to watch. It’s a funny and odd show, somewhere between stand-up comedy and a play. It’s not for everyone, but if you like dry, deadpan humour with characters and physical comedy, you’ll have a really good night.
Review by Tori Jo Lau
The Pajama Men – Just The Two Of Each Of Us is playing at the Arts Theatre for a limited season until November 23rd. The show is just over an hour and has no interval.
The Pajama Men Official website www.pajama-men.com
Arts Theatre http://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/
Sunday 20th October 2013