As daft, nonsensical comedy goes, I’m not generally a fan. Sure, I enjoy Basil Fawlty’s führer walk as much as the next Brit-gold appreciator, but – don’t shoot me – I can give or take the kind of US humour found in Ferrell’s Anchorman. Which is why it startles me to admit that my latest theatre outing to ‘Pajama Men: In the Middle of No One’ changed my perception of goofy slapstick…quite possibly for good.
Fresh from the Fringe and smaller theatre circuits, the Pajama Men (aka Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen) are a pajama-wearing American duo who’ve seamlessly delivered their minimalistic show to the majesty of the West End.
The skill of the Pajama Men lies in their ability to weave completely bizarre sketches together through watertight stand-up routines (throwing in some expert improvisation, where necessary).
The audience are taken on a scattergun adventure, dropping in on a hospital delivery room, a traditional English pub, a spaceship, and some sort of time-travelling vortex. I had no idea where the hell we were on several occasions. Sure, the pace is pretty fast, but not so fast you don’t at least have a semblance of a nuance of a speck of an idea as to what’s going on. Sort of.
We’re given a series of brilliant caricatures of men, women, children and, erm, aliens who effortlessly evolve from one character to the next. It’s very easy to forget that you’re only watching two actors, as the Pajama Men shape-shift their way through a multitude of bizarre scenarios.
The performance is not without heart. Expect love, lust, loss, sorrow and joy, plus lashings of life-musing quotes and profound observations. And some great catchphrases (“My breasts! My breasts!”).
The sets are rubbish (a large board collapsed on stage) but I’m glad they’re rubbish. It just adds to the purity of the comedy.