Review: A party in search of a purpose

  • Article by: KRISTIN TILLOTSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 24, 2013 - 5:59 PM

The idea behind “The Ultimate Pajama Party,” an interactive variety show getting a test run at the Lab Theater through Feb. 10, seems simple enough, but its execution proves anything but.

The cast plays a group of middle-aged gal pals (plus token gay man and four “cabana boys”) who involve their audience of same in onstage shenanigans and confessions, in between performing skits and songs, with a disco-dance party finale. The setting is a giant, mod living room, complete with appetizers, a (cash) tiki bar and a bed with hats, wigs and other props for photo-taking fun.

The shtick: Everyone wears pajamas, to give the event a conspiratorial, girls-only, relaxed feeling. The attitude is anything goes, and it does, to a fault. It often seemed that the stage was the last place the nightie-sporting partiers were looking, between texting, chatting and cocktail-refreshing.

Some genuinely funny bits include a “Fifty Shades of Grey” skit performed with sock puppets and a psychic who goes through the purse of a victim plucked from the crowd. But many cultural references were dated; name-checking Helen “I Am Woman” Reddy in 2013 is particularly wince-worthy, even for a target demo of a certain age. Others played into stereotypes, like a 50-yard Kar-DASH-ian race, with shopping bags.

This is high camp, not high art, and makes no pretense otherwise. But for a show that purports to be about celebrating womanhood and friendship, “The UPP” talks down to its audience. The fact that it’s directed and primarily written by men doesn’t buoy its credibility. The planners of this party would do well to look over their guest list, and either reflect the intelligence and tastes of those guests, or cross off some names.

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