"The reveal is gonna be so cool." We don't know which of the two Pajama Men said that (it's dark in here), but whoever it was, he was right. Man, these cats don't do even do openings like other performers.
Lights off, whisper on, Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez embrace their goofiness in the pitch black, screwing around with chairs and trying to find their spot. When the light returns, Chavez is in the air. And away we go.
The Pajama Men are an American comedy duo that makes plays without the aid of a proper set - or a proper script, for that matter. Allen and Chavez - character-driven comics and genius improvisers - are renowned for crafting wacky, near-dreamlike fairy-tales, brimming with an eccentric, odd-ball charm.
This, basically, is what happens when two clowns (BFFs since high school) forget to grow up. Only, the difference between Allen and Chavez and every other man-child joke-teller in the world, is that the Pajama Men are actually funny.
They do physical comedy like nobody else. Their scene and character set-ups are assisted by a dainty musician in the corner. The multi-award-winning Edinburgh Fringe favourites are the bedtime storytellers we never had, and they are fabulously bonkers. Oh, and they wear their PJs on stage.
The Pajama Men's latest theatrical giggle-fest, 2 Man 3 Musketeers, finds Allen and Chavez attempt to stage Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers in under an hour, with nothing more than silly wit and imagination to fill the blanks. You know the gist. A 17th century French farmer boy named d'Artagnan (a chain smoker) bids farewell to his family and heads off on his centaur to Paris where he wishes to be someone cool. Along the way, he encounters a talking tree.
Later, he literally bumps into three lads with swords at a bar and joins their gang. Young d'Artagnan also gets himself caught up in a Royal scandal in which the evil Cardinal (a Jabba the Hutt-esque monstrosity) is up to no good (some, uh, details may differ from the original novel).
With the Pajama Men, narrative and structure matter. But they are not nearly as important as the excitable character exchanges, some of which are clearly spun out on a whim.
This is a Monty Python-like sketch bonanza and Allen and Chavez are stupendous together. Really, it's as though they are operating from the same brain.The character transitions are seamless; the nonsensical dialogue, hilarious; the story, all over the place (in a good way) and the voice-work is simply terrific. The Pajama Men are the real deal - unique, outlandish and deliciously offbeat.
> CHRIS WASSER