Theatre review: 2 for Tea is farce at its finest

2 for Tea returns to Vancouver after successful performances in major Fringe Festivals throughout Canada and it’s easy to see why it played to sold out audiences. Golly gosh, these two clowns are talented.

Jamesy (Alastair Knowles), a peculiar and reclusive Brit in jodhpurs and specs, invites his bowler-hatted best friend James (Aaron Malkin) to tea. Everything must be just right: Jamesy spends all his prep time arranging his abode – measuring angles of teacups, modifying chair placements – with a hilarious set of acrobatics that are graceful and delighting.

The best friends’ world soon grows considerably larger than the neat little living room though when their letter to a British General results in an adventure to the front lines. They meet the General him/herself (reasons for such ambiguity will soon be revealed), a Russian doctor, and all of Jamesy’s extended family during their on-stage adventures. All in costume, all playing a vital role, each additional character comes from the audience.  With the fourth wall gloriously stripped away we enter into James’ and Jamesy’s world just as they discover ours.

Alastair Knowles and Aaron Malkin are James & Jamesy in 2 For Tea.

Alastair Knowles and Aaron Malkin are James & Jamesy in 2 For Tea. On stage at the Jericho Arts Centre through December 7, 2013.

It’s testament to the Js’ charisma and subtlety that we are just as content to watch a slow dance of tea-drinking and stilted (but loving) conversation as we are watch their expansive physical comedy of explosions, battle wounds and, eventually, out of control ambulances.

At its heart, 2 for Tea is a celebration of friendship, performed with earnestness and skill in equal measure. This is farce at its finest: 90 minutes of well-crafted hilarity that reminds us of the beauty – and importance – of play.

2 for Tea

Written and performed by Alastair Knowles and Aaron Malkin.  A Life & Depth Productions presentation.  On stage at the Jericho Arts Centre through December 7, 2013.  Visit http://jamesandjamesy.com for tickets and information.

Zoe GramScottish-born Zoe Grams is Principal at ZG Communications and has spent much of her life in theatres and bookstores.

Her work has appeared in publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Tyee, Back of the Book, GUM and Skinny Mag. Zoe’s lifelong passions include exploring new cities and the arts.

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