One of Fringe’s hottest duos, James & Jamesy, is back at the 2017 Ottawa Fringe with High Tea: Another British Comedy and it is absolutely steeped in hilarity. Riding the momentum from last year’s 2 for Tea, this production is almost guaranteed to sell out in Ottawa again so if you want tickets buy them in advance (repeat: this is not a drill- buy.tickets.in.advance.). While this particular piece lacks the same emotional depth as last year’s production, it is still undeniably a solid work of comedy that is supremely fun to watch.
High Tea begins in very much the same way as 2 for Tea (so much so that for a hot minute I thought it was the same play) with Jamesy (Alastair Knowles) anxiously awaiting the arrival of his best friend James (Aaron Malkin) for their weekly tea party. If you’ve seen a James & Jamesy show before, you know that these gatherings never just remain simple tea parties with Jamesy’s powerful imagination often taking over to create outrageous and absurd scenarios in which James is always left to figure their way out of. This particular show has a bit of an sea-faring theme to it where James and Jamesy become trapped on an island surrounded by tea, eventually being rescued by a passing by ship, only to be shipwrecked by a great storm. Special guest appearances by: the Queen, God, and a shark.
It’s very clear that these performers have been working on their material for quite some time- it’s well rehearsed, the actors are incredibly comfortable with each other on stage and also interacting with the audience. Their comedic timing is impeccable though, for me, the most hilarious parts of the show came out of the absolutely magical and unexpected tearing of Malkin’s’ trousers which caused both performers to break character on a number of occasions which was both endearing and authentic.
There’s a lot in this production that feels echoed from 2 for Tea: the general premise; using members of the audience and silly costumes to create secondary characters; and the cyclical structure of the narrative. I didn’t leave the show feeling the same level of inspiration from High Tea that I did from their previous performance, I think, in some part due to my familiarity with some of their gags; but mostly because it lacks the same depth in exploring the intramale relationship between James and Jamesy which I thought was so profound in 2 for Tea.
In any case, if you’ve seen James & Jamesy before I wouldn’t necessarily worry about losing sleep over not getting tickets to High Tea: Another British Comedy because it essentially feels like just another James & Jamesy show. That being said, in no way does that significantly detract from how well-executed or how incredibly enjoyable this show is to watch on stage. If you’ve been wondering what all the hype has been about, you know what to do: buy your tickets in advance.
by James & Jamesy
A Life & Depth Production
Venue 2: Academic Hall