The Pyjama Game – New Wolsey Theatre

There’s a marked contrast between last week’s offering as part of the new Wolsey Theatre’s Open season and this. Last week Gallery Players offered a moving contemporary musical Rent, while this week Appeal Theatre company head back to the 1950s for the classic The Pyjama Game.

Famously filmed with Dorris Day and recently revived on Broadway with crooner Harry Connick jnr; The Pyjama Game has become a staple of amateur companies and the packed first night audience suggests that it is still as popular as ever.

Plot wise it’s as flimsy as the Pyjama’s that the workers of the Sleep Tite factory make. It’s basically a boy meets girl romance played out against some minor workplace politics.

This weak plot is part of the problem with the show, spread over nearly 3 hours it now seems overlong, and at times fails to hold the attention. There are some nice comedic moments but the sum of the parts never fully come together.
As the central love interests, Carl Edwards and Cath Steel do give strong vocal performances and Rob Maplestone’s knife throwing supervisor was a nice example of comic timing. Director John Welton however needs to work with his cast to resolve some projection issues and to overcome first night nerves. This will also hopefully help resolve some of the lack of pace shown on opening night.

The company would also benefit by looking to tighten up the cumbersome scene transitions and lighting queues. For this show to really work it needs slick staging and split second timing, both sadly missing in this production.

This is an enthusiastic cast who do throw themselves into the show and the show raises considerable funds for local charities but sadly this isn’t the best vehicle to showcase their talents. It’s an amusing evening but one that never really sets the heart racing nor has the audience rolling in the aisles.

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