Two For Tea - Pure Silliness Well Executed

Two for Tea is an all-ages remount of one of the first shows that production company James and Jamesy brought to the Vancouver Fringe Festival. The company comprises the duo, Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles, and their director, David MacMurray Smith.

Before even entering the theatre it is obvious that James and Jamesy are a Fringe favourite. The ticket-holder line is all the way up the stairs out the building and down the stairs of the back porch, despite it being midday on a Sunday.

Slapstick comedy isn't my style, but the charm of these two eked a begrudging giggle (OK guffaw) out of me more than once. The show felt like a bewildering cross between Pinky and the Brain, Alice in Wonderland and Withnail and I. Content aside, I can certainly appreciate the timing, poise and specificity of these two performers and I loved that they were still having fun. Who knows how many times they’ve performed this piece, all across Canada? Yet they were still cracking each other up, not quite managing to hide their own enjoyment. I find that alone absolutely charming.

The plot really wasn't enough for me. A tea party turned sketch comedy where (spoiler alert) the only way to end a scene seems to be to kill everyone off in a cartoony kind of way might be fun, but without an end goal I get bored. Even silly family friendly shows need a raison d’etre in my opinion, but then again, this isn’t my genre, and pure silliness might be exactly your cup of *ahem* tea.

I did really enjoy “straight man” James (Aaron Malkin) in his more quiet, English moments. I’d love to see this actor in a more subtle, even dramatic piece. And Jamesy, (Alastair Knowles) for all his over-the-top eccentricity, had a superb grasp of physical comedy that even I could appreciate.

Favourite moments: the door gag. Every time. The umbrella in the storm. The typewriter scene.

It's Fringe, so of course we are subjected to gratuitous audience participation—probably part of how they keep things fresh—and our audience members certainly outdid themselves. I did appreciate that the duo first broached this subject by daring an audience member into participating, an excitingly tense moment, although after that it was the standard pick-someone-from-the-crowd scenario.

For those who love James and Jamesy from before, or for those who have been as yet unable to procure a ticket to their burstingly full shows, there is good news: James and Jamesy will be back in October (Oct 5-16 at the Waterfront Theatre) for James and Jamesy in the Dark. There’s a fringe-goers’ discount so get your flyer while you still can and get your tickets before they sell out. I might even see you there...

By Danielle Benzon