Soho Theatre, London
Comedy review: The Pajama Men: Just The Two Of Each Of Us
One can't but help wish that the Pajamas would reprise past glories for their ever-growing London fanbase
A month-long run with two shows a night at weekends signifies the intent of frenetic fringe darlings Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen to pack audiences in to their latest offering. Their work itself is likewise crowded with ideas and gags, but to the point that it bursts and is ultimately saggier than previous outings.
The contents of their veritable 'Jumanji box' of physical comedy and wordplay seep out and loosely group around a screwball plot involving an immortal beast, a Medieval fun park and various characters who have hung around to avoid history repeating itself.
Loopy sketches that could stand alone slowly weave a narrative 'greater' than themselves without the aid of a set or props, save for two chairs. On this occasion the character work of this US duo seems to be sacrificed to keep the story payoff at bay for a little longer than usual. Meanwhile, the gag count is high, but this seems to have dissipated the clowning of the pair, with some sketches more about servicing wordplay than the plot or characters.
Not that one could complain much about the quality of the lines.
In a sequence with the pair driving (a dual steering-wheeled car) Allen says "I wish I had a metal detector?", "Why?" replies Chavez. "So I could find some decent music on the radio." Later one character puns: "I'm a head gardener. Whatever I say grows."
The latter gag surfaces in a restaurant scene, one of the few that really pulls the story together. It offers a Lazy Susan of characters and the rotation duly gives proceedings overall momentum, dispelling some of the disparate feel that has built up.
In the same scene we meet supercool Franz, for whom everything is “too easy”, a refrain that borders on a catchphrase. Franz is one of Allen's larger-than-life characters, requiring him to 'go big' and drive the show forward. To demonstrate the lack of challenge in his life Franz dances through a laser grid to retrieve forgotten keys - a trivial Mission Impossible.
This beautifully illustrated quirk gives Franz an instant and memorable back story, a trick the pair have previously employed so well, but one missed with many of their creations here.
Not the full set of stripes for the slumberwear'd pair perhaps, and one can't but help wish that the Pajamas would reprise past glories for their ever-growing London fanbase. Nonetheless, if imagination was quantifiable these two would be continually off the charts.
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