Embrace the challenge when the Pajama Men greet you with warnings that you may be a bad goalie — “Didn’t catch that” or “That one went over my head.” The only thing at risk is new laugh lines on your smiling face.
It does take brain power to keep up with Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen, the men in silky pajamas on City Theatre’s Mainstage, but taking the ride with them is so much fun. Their act is a breed apart from the usual, and not just because they are a comic duo or that they do their thing in PJs. The masterful storytellers take you from point “Eh?” to “Oh!” while racking up side-splitting, sometimes bawdy detours on the way to a satisfying finish.
The loose story features a king and his wizard-servant, BFFs Nadine and one-armed Diane, a horse and an ancient beast to name a few of the characters. On opening night Wednesday, there were times when Mr. Allen’s off-script antics caused Mr. Chavez to break into a fourth-wall smile and hurled the pair into improv mode before they came back to the plotted craziness.
Their physical comedy was as nimble as their wordplay. While investigating a giant sinkhole (just go with it), one friend tells the other, “My father was a seismologist. He could’t get a steady job. He was always on shaky ground …” They were rappelling into the hole at the time. That is to say, they were miming the action.
Mr. Allen losing an oar (that’s not a metaphor) or trying to get a comforting kiss from an uncomfortable horse (Mr. Chavez) were among the many moments that drew peals of laughter from an appreciative audience.
There is a boat, a motorcycle, horses, a claw arcade game, that giant beast — but the only props are two chairs. Cool customer Kevin Hume underscores the action with the occasional keyboard or acoustic guitar accompaniment, taking his cues from the dynamic duo.
After 75 often frenetic minutes, you realize that Mr. Chavez and Mr. Allen have pulled all of the looniness into a satisfying conclusion. It’s well worth rappelling down the rabbit hole with them to experience the wonderland of wackiness that awaits.
Sharon Eberson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1960.