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  • Writer's pictureMartin Zeilig

O Christmas Tea: A British Comedy

Winnipeg Fringe favourites James (Aaron Malkin) & Jamesy (Alastair Knowles) are touring Eastern Canada this season, with 31 cities across Ontario and a final stop in Winnipeg, O Christmas Tea is set to sweep audiences away (literally) in an unforgettable story of adventure, friendship and, indeed, tea, says the advance publicity.

This wonderful production is “a wildly popular and eccentric Christmas spectacular” with over 100,000 tickets sold since 2013 across the West Coast of Canada and the US, now it comes east for the very first time. Although for Alastair Knowles, who now lives in Winnipeg, the final date will be a homecoming.

Their performance will take place on December 30th at the Centennial Concert Hall.

James and Jamesy agreed to an email interview with The Voxair.

Q: What is the basic premise of O Christmas Tea?

A: James and Jamesy are unlikely friends who meet for a weekly cup of tea. As they sip tea at Christmas, Jamesy’s unbridled imagination becomes ‘reality’ as tea fills the theatre, turning the duo’s tea party into a nautical tea-themed adventure. Reminiscent of classic British Pantos, rich with comic physicality and wordplay, the duo stretch our loftiest ideas of what theatre can be, and leave us relishing the friendships and relationships we forge with our audiences.

Q: How did the two of you meet and where?

A: We met studying a theatrical style called “clown” together in a barn on an island. We were tasked with coming up with an act for the following day’s performance, and at nightfall we each, independently, set off separately into the night looking for inspiration. Stumbling upon each other in darkness, we found ourselves comforted by the predicament we were in, and headed back to the barn. That night, the seed of our friendship, and our creative on-stage relationship was planted. 10 years, and 800 performances later, we’re still at it!

Q: What are the main challenges of being physical comedians?

A: We’re getting older!

Since O Christmas Tea has become an annual tradition for audiences across the Pacific Northwest, we have performed the show every year in more cities than the year before. With this routine, every year we come face to face with the reality that we each are a year older.

While certain skills become more honed and we find new details to develop, such as our singing, dancing, and timing, other skills become more challenging, such as Jamesy scaling up the back of James, as if he were a ladder, while James is himself scaling a wall. Large physical challenges like that require more warming up and more care in their execution.

James and Jamesy just keep on delighting audiences with their onstage performances.

For ticket information, contact the Centennial Concert Hall box office at

(204) 956-1360.

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