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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow The Pajama Men: In the Middle of No One
The Pajama Men: In the Middle of No One
Published on Thursday, 11 August 2011

5 stars

Assembly Hall (venue website)
4-14, 16-28 Aug, 9:00pm-10:00pm
Reviewed by Liv Watson

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Spending an hour in the company of comedy duo Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez is a blissful experience, offering some of the most surreal and wonderful comedy I have seen yet.  With only two chairs as props, the pair whisk the audience along on a bizarre intergalactic adventure with time traveller Ross Stevens Sparks (‘that doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it?’).  Leaving behind his newborn child, he encounters, amongst others, an unflinching spaceship-park attendant and the unforgettable ‘Give-it-to-me’ bird in his quest to go back in time to un-invent the time travelling machine.

If at this point you’re already confused by the plot, then you won’t be alone, for the sheer number of weird and wonderful characters produced throughout the course of the show is utterly baffling. This is apparently the goal of the duo, for each character is as unconventional as the plot. Both Allen and Chavez move in and out of a multitude of roles so extraordinarily quickly that it’s hard to comprehend how they themselves keep pace. Indeed, in one scene, Allen and Chavez switch characters so fast that they have eventually exchanged roles, and no one is entirely sure who is who, or whether anyone should in fact be holding a gun.

It’s not hard to pinpoint why the audience love The Pajama Men: they are superb actors with spectacularly mobile faces, and what is apparently a limitless repertoire of accents and vocal sound effects. They are well aware of that talent, and use to full effect: at one point, as two characters share a bottle of wine, one asks of the other ‘could you pour that for me please? I can’t make that sound.’

The entire show is set to the low-key but completely lovely music of Kevin Hume, who sits patiently whilst Allen and Chavez engage in scene after ludicrous scene. Indeed, were it not for Hume’s soundtrack, the show might have begun to unravel: the complexity of both characters and plot mean that the overall direction of the performance risks being forgotten. This, thankfully, is not the case, as the melodies subtly remind the audience of precisely which emotions they should be feeling in the larger context of the plot.

For talented men in pyjamas, look no further. This comedy duo are truly a delight to watch: experts in physical comedy, and cleverly improvising on top of an already first-class script, Allen and Chavez will have you leaving the theatre enchanted, bemused, and no doubt desperate to see the show a second time.

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