Pajama Men: 2 Man 3 Musketeers  | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Soho Theatre, London

Pajama Men: 2 Man 3 Musketeers

Note: This review is from 2015

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Soho Theatre, London

Not just three musketeers, Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen double-handedly create a cast of dozens, from camp centaurs to bewildered audience members, birds of prey to cuckolding aristocrats.

Switches of scenes and characters are dizzying, as always with these Albuquerque’s finest, and it’s easy to get left behind – a fact they acknowledge as they become the confused older women in the front row, wondering whether to leave in a wonderfully savage display of passive-aggression.

But acknowledging the difficulties isn’t the ‘get out of jail free’ card they would hope; and the show remains confusing, not least because other creations in the main story are hard to distinguish from each other, as well as the fact that d’Artagnan can be played by either of them, depending on the logistics.

This is not one of their more coherent epics, the viewer has to bask in the spirit of the piece, rather than try too much to keep up with the convoluted narratives, which are barely on nodding terms with any other versions of Alexandre Dumas’s story that you may have seen.

Nonetheless,there are delights, prime among them Allen’s Cardinal Richelieu a Jabber-the-Hutt/Mr Creosote like blob of fat, more liquid than solid. And both a duel sparked by the challenge ‘avant garde!’ and a scene acted out as if by reluctant and self-conscious High School thespians are fantastic standalone skits, displaying their linguistic and performance wit at its finest.

Both the messy, sprawling storyline and their loose performance style gives the show the atmosphere of being improvised. Sometimes it is, although there’s too much material to get through for it to be entirely unplanned. But the relaxed approach presumably keeps the show fresh for them, and infuses it with an infectiously playful personality – even if that’s a false sense given how alert you need be to follow everything.

Their physical comedy skills are required to portray anything from a luxuriant moustache to a giant pair of breasts, while they zip things along both with their own cartoonish sound effects and the evocative soundtrack provided by Kevin Hume, turning his hand to a range of weird and wonderful instruments.

It’s all enjoyable stuff and nonsense, impressive in its pacing and theatrical ambition, if not as complete nor as roundly rewarding as their finest work.

Review date: 25 Nov 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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