When Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles enter the Cleland Theatre in Penticton on Dec. 8, they’ll be ready to welcome back a crucial member of their team that has been absent for too long — the audience.
The duo, known by their stage names as James and Jamesy, has won several awards for their comedic theatrics, frequently described as a production in the same vein of Monty Python and Mr. Bean.
But in the eyes of the comedians, the two of them aren’t the only ones performing on stage. It’s their fans that play just as important of a role in the success of the show.
“The opportunity (for the audience) to step into a new version of themselves and participate in the creation of something magical…the opportunity is right there,” said Malkin, who plays James. “If they’ve been to our shows before, then they know the opportunity.”
After over a year-long break, the two performers are set to return to the Okanagan and present their O’ Christmas Tea show this holiday season. But more importantly, they’re eager to welcome back its crowd as one of the members of the team.
“People that have come to the show before know what is going to happen,” said Knowles, who plays the more eccentric Jamesy. “They just don’t know how it’s going to happen.”
The pair have previously appeared in Penticton twice. It’s a city they view as a magical place to perform.
“There’s been a special type of magic in Penticton,” Knowles said. “You really feel the joy of the audience immediately because you can see them all. All the sight lines are perfect.”
Due to provincial restrictions, the duo will perform in front of a 50 per cent capacity crowd during its B.C. tour. That’s why they’ve decided to play two shows in as many nights at the Cleland Theatre.
The smaller size of the venue helps the pair connect to their audience that much more.
“It’s a room where every seat is great,” said Malkin. “In that space, there’s this energy that’s harder to get to in a larger theatre.”
According to the duo, the relationship between them and their fans begins before the show even starts.
“One thing we used to do as a way of connecting to the audience before they were aware the show had started, is we would have a couple of hundred fine-china cups in the lobby and everyone would be invited to help serve themselves tea,” said Malkin.
In the beginning days they would hold pre-show tea parties in theatre lobbies, but their shows have expanded production and now performs in front of large audiences of over 1,000.
This time around though in Penticton, the British comedy duo hopes that a familiar aspect of their show will make a return.
“There’s an opportunity to come together and sing a Christmas carol or two,” said Malkin. “Before the show has started, the audience is conducted to do something together.”
To find tickets go to the Cleland Theatre website here.