Pajama Men: In The Middle of No One

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

The Pajama Men’s appealing mix of fast-paced characterisation, sprawling storylines, sharp, knowing scripts and a flick of improvisation and have won them fans, awards – including the 2009 Barry – and a TV development deal back home in the States. So they are about as likely to change their style as they are to change out of their trademark nightwear.

To explain the labyrinthine, non-linear plot of Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen’s latest piece would be futile. It’s essentially about the men who stumble across the secrets of time travel once an alien ship crashes to Earth – but that takes a long time emerging from the chaos. Until then, we cut between scenes like a child with attention-deficit disorder has been let loose with the TV remote.

First we’re in a hospital, where a woman’s just given birth; then in an old-fashioned bar where an oversexed tropical bird disturbs the regulars, then in the lair of the Ice Beast, then in the a space station. Yet for all the jolly characters and Knockabout comedy, there’s a gruesome undertone, too, with gleefully gratuitous mimes of sex and bloody violence that Quentin Tarantino might have thought up.

This is all achieved with no costumes, props or technical wizardry, just two chairs on stage is all they need; plus a musician to add a subtle soundtrack including a song to wrap up the events at the end.

The speed is frantic and the script bustles with stupid puns, exaggerated characters and whip-smart one-liners. The goofy pair are like a modern-day Goon Show, but with discipline. Or at least enough discipline to keep the initially baffling plot on track; for such a dense, intricate show the pair have a light touch, unafraid to deviated from the script every now and then to tease each other over their performances or banter with the audience – frivolous interludes that help keep the show fresh.

There’s so much going on here, you’re sure to miss something. If only there really was a time machine so you could leap back an hour and enjoy the whole thing again…

Review date: 27 Apr 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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