I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interactive stage play that has brought forth both tears of laughter and sadness from my eyes until I saw James & Jamesy’s highly acclaimed 2 for Tea. Hailing all the from Sussex, UK, this company has created a show that will tickle your funny bone with the performers’ mastery of physical comedy while the deep and meaningful relationship between the two characters will tug on your heart strings at the same time. If there are any tickets you were thinking of buying in advance, it should be ones to this show.

2 for Tea is a surreal romp through James and Jamesy’s weekly tea parties and through the duration of the 60 minutes we come to see just how much each character comes to anticipate the other’s presence.   You can forget about hiding behind the fourth wall in this show because there is quite a bit of audience participation involved that only adds to the humour as the two performers appear to be expert improvisers. My favourite part, however, comes at the end where Jamesy (Alastair Knowles) decides to wait for James(Aaron Malkin) in the Limbo Bar. Truly touching.

Photography by Thaddeus Hink
Photography by Thaddeus Hink

Subtlety is, perhaps, one of 2 for Tea’s greatest strengths when it comes to building the relationship between the two characters. We don’t ever need to see them make out on stage to know that they harbour immense feelings towards one another and are kind-of conflicted about it. It doesn’t always need to be stated so explicitly when it comes to these things. James & Jamesy, like Ernie and Bert, appear to leave things up to suggestion and imagination.

Photography by Thaddeus HInk
Photography by Thaddeus HInk

The comedy certainly feels like a refreshing take on Monty Python and the comedic style they made famous. The moment that Knowles enters the stage I am instantly reminded of Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks” bit, yet he’s made it his own in this instance. The umbrella sketch, where James fights against a mighty rainstorm (not an unfamiliar experience to us here in Ottawa) is equally impressive in the physical fluidity displayed by Malkin. The integration of the audience members is done so in such a way that feels natural and necessary to the piece itself- the woman who played Jamesy’s mother the night I was there couldn’t stop laughing on stage and it was legitimately the sweetest and funniest thing. Finally, the sound (despite a few stumbles) and the clever prop design are other great elements to be enjoyed in this show.

Honestly, this has got to be one of the funniest plays I’ve seen in a long time. 2 for Tea is, to put it  quite simply, a comedic masterpiece. Cheers!

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