A Christmas tea party for two

Comedy duo must save the world from drowning in production at The ACT in Maple Ridge.

Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles play James and Jamesy in O Christmas Tea

Imagine the world flooded with tea.

That’s what the award-winning comedy duo of Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles want you to do when they bring their British characters, James and Jamesy, to Maple Ridge for a Christmas tea party – a fantastic trip of the imagination for the whole family.

A catastrophic event takes place when James, played by Malkin, and Jamesy, played by Knowles, hold their weekly tea party in the production called O Christmas Tea.

At first, their flat becomes flooded with tea, then the whole world, forcing the friends to leap into action in order to stay afloat and save the world from drowning.

“British accents are something, to me, symbolizing a fun jovial lifestyle,” said Knowles, who grew up around relatives from the United Kingdom.

“Since Aaron and I started performing together, we’ve really enjoyed playing off of one another in these British characters,” said Knowles.

“We feel that the accents and the properness that we associate with British culture is wonderfully juxtaposed with the absurd comedy that we like to live out.”

Malkin and Knowles have been performing together since 2012, touring as James and Jamesy across North America, performing original works, including High Tea, 2 for Tea and In The Dark.

“What I think British culture has really leaned into, at least in the last 50 or 100 years, is this idea that you there ’s a groundedness, regardless of what is happening around you,” said Knowles.

“There is still this anchor. We still know where we are because there are still two chaps dressed really properly and all they are trying to do is have tea,” added Knowles.

The stage will be set up with only two chairs and a table and the two will be using their bodies, sound effects, lighting design and voices to make it seem like the walls of the theatre have folded back.

“It ignites the imagination,” said Knowles, comparing the production to a good book as opposed to a film.

“I remember reading stories with my dad as a kid and I know we both would have our own interpretation of what was happening in the story that were so real to each of us,” said Knowles, adding that people continuously tell them they could actually feel the tidal wave of tea coming over them.

Members of the audience will be invited to take part in the production, as well.

“We create immersive environments and contexts in which people feel compelled to join in and play with us. We don’t actually try to get them to do things. We provide opportunities for them to step into roles and games that they are delighted to play,” said Malkin.

“We do about 130 shows a year and we’ve had lots of experience of different contexts and different strategies of getting people on board.”

There will be full costumes for audience members to put on.

“It’s like selecting your character in a video game, where by giving them some tools they are able to inhabit those costumes and those personalities more fully,” said Knowles.

• You can catch O Christmas Tea: A British Comedy at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 22 and 23 at the ACT, 11944 Haney Place in Maple Ridge.

• For more information, call 604-476-2787 or go to jamesandjamesy.com.

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