The comedy duo of James and Jamesy present their hilarious annual holiday show, O Christmas Tea, for two performances on Dec. 8 at the Royal Theatre. Photo by Thaddeus Hink

James and Jamesy help create a new family Christmas tradition

O Christmas Tea returns to the Royal Theatre for two shows on Dec. 8

By Joseph Blake

Monday Magazine contributor

Canadian comedy duo James and Jamesy, a.k.a. Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles, have seen their audience makeup expand since they first hit the road with their imaginative, interactive seasonal favourite, O Christmas Tea.

When they return to Victoria for a pair of shows Dec. 8 at the Royal Theatre, they expect to see a strong family element.

“Since our first tour of O Christmas Tea five years ago, a range of ages have been attracted to the show,” Knowles says. “We will have three generations all together in the theatre loving the same thing, and that’s a real joy to me.”

Fringe Festival favourites with a handful of critically acclaimed original plays that fill theatres around the world, Malkin and Knowles met in Vancouver. Their chemistry is at the heart of shows featuring amazing physical comedy, rich wordplay, Mr. Bean and Monty Python-like quirkiness, and elements of the British Panto tradition.

The participatory nature of the show lends itself well to family bonding, Malkin says.

“Christmas is always a time when families choose to be together. They get together for Christmas morning and to share a meal, and our show is another chance to experience Christmas together while witnessing others experiencing the show,” he says.

“My six year old is particularly enthusiastic about dinosaurs, and a scene where the audience creates dinosaurs is magical,” Malkin continues. “Dinosaurs are the ultimate bridge between make believe and not make believe. It’s so amazing that they once roamed the planet. They create a sense of timelessness. Noah’s Ark and the Titanic scene is another part of the show where the audience participates and discovers itself. It’s beyond a British comedy style, and it works really well with Christmas to create magic.”

The show fosters a spirit of play, Knowles says.

“Audiences are invited into the play, creating a sense of wonder and the joy of playing together.”

A veteran of clown and dance theatre scenes, the duo helped launch Vancouver’s In Jest Festival of Clown and Play, and their unique blend of interactive theatre will also be familiar to British Panto audiences. They tour six months every year, and recent tours have taken them to sold-out performances and critical acclaim (multiple London Impresario and Canadian Comedy Awards) at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Off-Broadway at New York’s historical Soho Playhouse.

“Touring New York City and Edinburgh Fringe inspired us to add two new technicians to our show to augment the technical team and add to the sense of magic and illusion happening on stage.” says Aaron. “We keep doing this show because it’s hilarious and fun for us, too.”

The two shows happen Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. For tickets and more information about James and Jamesy’s O Christmas Tea visit rmts.bc.ca or charge by phone at 250-386-6121.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Actors asked to find a spirituality for new Belfry production

Playwright/director Tara Beagan’s The Ministry of Grace tells Indigenous tale of challenge, love

PERFECTLY POTABLE: Bold reds that make you stand up and take notice

Monday wine columnist Robert Moyes weighs in on a trio of fine reds and a yummy late harvest white

Powerful Russian folk trio makes triumphant return to city

Trio Voronezh back on Victoria stage for first time since appearing at Coupe Mondiale in 2013

Abbamania, Night Fever in spotlight at McPherson in Victoria

ABBA, Bee Gees songs will fill the Mac Feb. 7, along with Lady Gaga tribute

Vic High alumni named Victoria’s new Youth Poet Laureate

Neko Smart, the founder and coach of the Vic High slam poetry team, will serve a one-year term

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Winners announced for inaugural Victoria Arts Council/Monday poetry contest

More than 100 entries received in five categories

Canadian polar bears’ ‘ingenious’ survival seen in BBC Earth series

Film crews also go to Tofino to watch black bears snap up crabs under massive boulders

Spring author’s reading series kicks off early in Sidney

Sidney and Peninsula Literary Society hosting Yasuko Thanh and Carla Funk for Feb. 7 event

The winners of London Drugs’ 2019 Amateur Photographer of the Year contest are…

After more than 26,000 entries, the winners have been selected across Western Canada.

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ filmmaker Dean DeBlois among Canadian Oscar nominees

Multiple Oscar-nominated Canadian talents on Academy Award hopefuls list

Most Read