‘The Pajama Men’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company by Amanda Gunther

Two men. One stage. In their pajamas? The infamous Pajama Men have come to town and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is tossing their newest show In The Middle of No One up onto the stage just in time for a holiday laugh. It’s no ordinary comedy show, combining elements of slapstick, mime, clown, and long-form improv into one huge jumble of a story that is packed with laughs and moments of utter confusion. With mood music provided by Kevin Hume, The Pajama Men — Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez, are sure to bring you some surprising laughs this season.

Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen (The Pajama Men). Photo courtesy of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

The stage is simple, no props or scenery, just two chairs, letting the comic work speak for itself. There is a myriad of comic formats that Allen and Chavez intertwine into sixty minutes of comedy. The show overall has a feel of being at a comedy club on amateur night, as some of their skits and sketches really land with the audience and others garnered little reaction whatsoever, despite the two comedians laughing over them. Their routine feels slightly unpolished, as if its unfinished, which presents a disjointed notion to the show as it does essentially tell a story from beginning to end, if not always in that chronological order.

One of the more entertaining aspects of their work is that even when the audience wasn’t responding to their jokes or sketches in the manner that they expected (and I imagine every night is as different as every audience is different) both Allen and Chavez were enjoying themselves. When the audience didn’t  laugh at a joke or get the punch line of a scene, they laughed for them. And there were several moments throughout the course of the show where they both lost their concentration, breaking into peals of laughter over everything and nothing at all.

Both Chavez and Allen have an excellent handle on how to execute various formats of comedy. Their slapstick is flawless, complete with sound effects that are perfectly synchronized with their movements. And they are not above pandering to one another mid-scene for assistance, which breaks the fourth-wall and structure of the show but in a completely comical way. Their comical techniques showcase their years of experience in the industry; particularly their physical expressivity.

Chavez is the more physically engaged comedian while Allen tends to favor more facial expressions and sound effect usage in his comical execution. Together the combination makes for some really entertaining nonsense, and sometimes some not so entertaining nonsense. If nothing else it is a unique experience that is unlikely to be encountered anywhere else. The boys bring a fresh sense of comic creation to the work; letting the audience realize the creative process as it is happening, live on stage.

The Pajama Men is certainly a wildly entertaining and unique experience for a night out at the theatre this holiday season.

Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.

The Pajama Men: In The Middle of No One play through January 6, 2013 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company – 641 D Street NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 393-3939, or purchase them online.

The Pajama Men website.

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Amanda Gunther is an actress, a writer, and loves the theatre. She graduated with her BFA in acting from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and spent two years studying abroad in Sydney, Australia at the University of New South Wales. Her time spent in Sydney taught her a lot about the performing arts, from Improv Comedy to performance art drama done completely in the dark. She loves theatre of all kinds, but loves musicals the best. When she’s not working, if she’s not at the theatre, you can usually find her reading a book, working on ideas for her own books, or just relaxing and taking in the sights and sounds of her Baltimore hometown. She loves to travel, exploring new venues for performing arts and other leisurely activities. Writing for the DCMetroTheaterArts as a Senior Writer gives her a chance to pursue her passion of the theatre and will broaden her horizons in the writer’s field.


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