Adelaide Cabaret Festival
The Space
Until 17 Jun 2017

Review by Anthony Vawser

They do, in fact, wear pajamas, but on the other hand, pterodactyls here are noticeable only by their absence. No matter; the U.S. sketch comedy duo of Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez (one scary-sounding and intense-looking, the other gentle-seeming and amiable in appearance) may lack dinosaurs, but they do deliver – accompanied by their keyboardist – a mostly solid hour of entertainment.

The puns are pleasantly corny, while the self-created sound effects can be surprisingly stomach-turning (which is probably intentional on their part). The character work ranges from vivid explorations of twisted sociopathy to simple dimwits with borderline-aggravating speech impediments, but some of these individuals are just not amusing enough to compensate for their innate screechiness.

These guys demonstrate – through skilled timing and intonation – something of a knack for rescuing segments in trouble. Notably clever touches, such as when the pair attempt to become the embodiment of their own audience, are particularly welcome. It’s also gratifying to get a number of strong, smart jokes that don’t depend on either rudeness or crudeness – though the riffing on the very subject of rudeness pays ample dividends. The finale may be an example of saving the best for last, as the pair attempt to become a single being with one mind and one mouth, spontaneously and simultaneously improvising answers to audience questions.

While an unseen tech operator is on-hand throughout to engineer the occasional effective visual touch, the lack of sets (two chairs) or costume changes basically places all the responsibility for verbal/visual/musical interest on the three performers, and while the Pajama Men don’t always hit the target every time, their success rate is enough to make for a satisfying show.