Black Pajamas | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Black Pajamas 

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Black Pajamas, Shattered Globe Theatre.

This late-night show is well suited to its time slot: a tight, tense play, Black Pajamas explores the dark side of the psyche often associated with the night--the haunting, unfinished business avoided during daylight hours. In the silence and stillness of a bar after last call, bartender Sky is visited by a mysterious woman, PJ, who seems to have appeared out of thin air. Eventually their conversation--by turns playful, accusing, lusty, and threatening--leads us to suspect that PJ isn't actually a woman but the "demon" voices in Sky's subconscious, personified in a dominatrix-pussycat. But then a psychologist barfly comes in for an after-hours cocktail, and he also sees and communicates with PJ. If she's simply imagined, then both men are deeply vulnerable to voices inside them that they clearly don't wish to hear.

Playwright Steven S. Taylor lets us glimpse a place in the mind where what's real and what's imagined are difficult to distinguish. Directed at a rapid-fire pace by Mark Alexander Clover, the three cast members play well off one another. Sarah Cappelli fully explores PJ's extremes, portraying the frightened girl next door as believably as she does the vixen temptress. She manipulates the awkward Sky (Gregory Kopp) and the seemingly more confident Doc (Jim Saltouros) with the same assurance.

The spirit or ghost who communicates thoughts a character wouldn't otherwise be able to deal with or express is not an unusual literary device. What makes this Shattered Globe production thought-provoking is the fact that for its two white, middle-class males, the "demon" is an attractive, sexually assertive woman who's clearly in control.

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