Jamesy gets comfortable with some audience members who became his co-stars at a performance in Winnipeg.

British actors bring laughs, and tea

A physical comedy duo who spent their summer touring the Fringe Festival circuit is bringing their acclaimed show '2 for Tea' to Nelson

A physical comedy duo who spent their summer touring the Fringe Festival circuit is bringing their acclaimed show 2 for Tea to Nelson next week.

Created and performed by British actors Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles — who refer to each other, on stage and off, by their character names James Brown and Jamesy Evans — the show is based around a tea party hosted by an obsessive hermit (Jamesy) and an average guy (James) who is trying to help him come out of his shell.

Another four other characters will also pop up in the show, with the help of audience members who join the pair on stage, getting into costume and taking on a set of character attributes assigned to them.

“Unlike some audience participation shows were people come up on stage and things happen to them, in our show [the volunteers] are part of the show as much as we are,” James explains. “We’re engaging in play with them, like children in a sandbox.”

Of course, there’s an element of risk because they have no idea what their new co-stars are going to do once they get a spotlight on them.

“Every night there are surprises offered to us by the audience that we’re able to extend and delight in the genuine impulses that they provide to the show,” Jamesy says.

During one performance in Toronto, a man charged up on stage uninvited and started creating his own scenarios and refused to be guided by the pair’s suggestions. They found out later he was a professional improviser with the local comedy school.

“He really kept us on our toes,” James laughs.

On other occasions they’ve selected people with mobility issues or other unexpected challenges that they suddenly have to work into their role.

“What’s wonderful about these situations is it really shows that anyone of any age or physical capability can play, and play on stage,” James says.

The pair attempt to get everyone in the theatre involved in the show to some extent. They pass out 100 fine china tea cups in the audience and dole out tea throughout the show (anyone who brings their own cup will also have it filled).

“We have enough tea for everyone,” Jamesy says, slipping in a plug to the show’s sponsor, Tetley. “Everyone should feel like they’re part of the tea party that is the foundation of the show.”

While in Nelson, the pair will also spend two weeks at L.V. Rogers teaching performance, improvisation and clown workshops to the high school’s 90 theatre students.

Check out 2 for Tea at the Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults or $12 for students/seniors, available in advance at the Capitol Theatre box office or online at capitoltheatre.bc.ca or phone 250-352-6363.