Alastair Knowles and Aaron Malkin star (above) in James and Jamesy In the Dark

Comedic duo illuminate the Capitol

Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles mount their third production,
James and Jamesy in the Dark.

When audience members arrive at the Capitol Theatre next week for the two-night run of James and Jamesy In the Dark, they may be surprised to learn that the show’s only illumination comes from the stars themselves.

“These are two characters who are, in some respects, lights,” Aaron Malkin, otherwise known as James, told the Star. “And whatever they’re looking at is illuminated. We dynamically light the show as we perform it.”

That means that rather than focusing on the actors, the audience’s attention will be drawn in the direction of whatever the pair happens to be looking at.

“These are two characters who independently believe they’re alone in their existence, so what they’ve experienced is limited. But when they arrive in the space together they’re exposed to the other and they realize there are these parts of themselves they’ve never acknowledged.”

The conceit grew from the pair’s desire to create a show appropriate for an outdoor festival. They experimented with it at live venues and were thrilled with the results.

“We knew we had to have some sort of lights with us, so we incorporated them into the costumes. The first weekend we performed was an amazing experience because we could create theatrical environments wherever we went,” said Alastair Knowles, who plays Jamesy.

“At one point a whole group gathered on a hilltop and they were a chorus, singing. We weren’t even directing them. One person stepped in as the conductor while we lit them, and the people started to take on these roles. And then we galloped off like horses leaving them thinking ‘what just happened?’”

The show has a philosophical bent, said Knowles, and is a celebration of discovery.

“We’re embodiments of discovery. The literal discovery of another person, or the discovery that we have a back — that creates a whole world of physical bewilderment. It gets fast-paced and really funny, this amazing experience of discovering all the possibilities out there and what to do with those possibilities when you realize you have no idea what’s out there.”

Step by step, they figure it out.

“We move from ourselves on the stage into realizing that beyond the stage is an audience.”

That moment is huge for the characters, who then joyously tear down the fourth wall and pull the audiences into the creation process.

“We realize they react to us! And we react to them! And then we create moments with the audience that are discoveries for us, discoveries for the audience, and we have that joy of shared creation,” said Jamesy.

“We’ve finessed all we’ve learned from touring over the course of the summer and we believe we’ve created a piece that is intellectually stimulating and has a core of joyous celebration of being.”

James and Jamesy In the Dark will play on Oct. 14 and 15 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $23 for adults and $15 for students and children.

For more information visit capitoltheatre.bc.ca.

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