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Two Men, Three Musketeers

Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez
The Pajama Men
HOME, Manchester

I’ve not been well recently—man flu. I tell you this not to play on your sympathy (although the sympathy of British Theatre Guide readers is the stuff of legend), but because I arrived at HOME intent on putting a well-known adage to the test. You know? The one that says laughter is the best medicine.

Tonight, the Pajama Men (so named for reasons I’m sure you’ll figure out) bring to Theatre 1 their own interpretation of Alexandre Dumas’s classic novel The Three Musketeers. In my view, it is the mark of a great adaptation to bring a new perspective to even the best-known of stories. If you’re not helping your audience see an old tale through new eyes then, frankly, why bother?

Do the Pajama Men achieve this? Well, I’d lay odds that—no matter how familiar you are with Dumas’s swashbuckling romance, no matter how meticulously you have pored over the text, no matter even if you’ve completed your PhD and published the gold standard critical guide to The Three Musketeers—you will more than likely have overlooked one pivotal character: Tony the centaur.

Forget D’Artagnan and his friends. Forget Cardinal Richelieu, the King, the Queen, the Duke of Buckingham and all the rest. The Pajama Men (Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez) will make you realise that every copy of the book and every film, tv and stage adaptation should carry the acknowledgement:

None of this would have been possible without the generous participation of Tony the centaur.

These days, no comedy show is complete without audience involvement—in this case Nadine and Diane (who bear some passing resemblance to Allen and Chavez). The two friends have a major bust-up over whether or not they should try to sneak out midway through the show. Tempers fray, harsh truths are exchanged and, in the ensuing duel, one sustains a serious wound (i.e. the loss of an arm). Even so, this is surely scant excuse for bleeding on your friend so inconsiderately.

In contrast, the duel between D’Artagnan and a musketeer is a joyously camp baroque dance, involving gentle but decisive bottom-smacking.

The Pajama Men mug, mime and vocally contort their way through an impressive range of characters—from the revolting (Richlieu) to the hilarious (their awkward teen production parody is unforgettable).

An uncredited yet versatile musician makes a handy contribution throughout (and what is that instrument that looks like a slimline radiator?!).

It all ends… wait, what am I saying? Tony would never forgive me if I gave away the ending! Get yourself down there and see it. Allen, Chavez and Unknown Musician leave the stage to deservedly rousing acclaim.

As for that old adage; I certainly feel a lot better when I come out, than when I went in. I'm clearly not alone in that.

Thank you, Tony. Good job!

Reviewer: Martin Thomasson