JAMES & JAMESY IN THE DARK
JAMES & JAMESY, October 1st-16th, Waterfront Theatre
My Two Pence
My Two Cents
By Liz Gloucester
Two torchlights appear on either side of the stage; at first alone, then together, then zooming around, about, over and under each other. To me it was reminiscent of mining fairyfolk, aided by the helium-throated quality of their cries of 'Ready!' To others it could be outer-space. A neverworld, an 'everything is possible' world, a world of discovery and creation. James and Jamesy have the mammoth task of being both performers, lighting designers and technical managers. With large headlamps strapped to the tops of their heads they are the only source of the light but also use it as a tool to discover their space. There is no set and seemingly no objective. By keeping us ('the other we') in the dark the audience project our own interpretation onto it.
16 times Best of Fringe winners and Nominees for a Canadian Comedy Award James and Jamesy pull in a large crowd. It is glorious to see all ages in the audience to watch a genre of theatre that has been largely forgotten by most of mainstream entertainment. Clowning and the delicate balance portrayed by simple and intricate performance are what James and Jamesy excel at. Doing uncomplicated things to perfection is a lot harder than it looks and I can only imagine the hours it took for the performers to perfect their carefully synchronised movements.
James and Jamesy are classifiable as character clowns but for 'In the Dark' they embrace white-face- a tradition which lends itself beautifully to the physical scenes near the beginning. This allows a more distinctive 'canvas'- especially coupled with the dynamic lighting design- for the exaggerated expressions of surprise, shock, fear, acceptance and joy. A highly memorable portion of the show involved the pair's discovery of each other physically. They slowly edge forward, forefingers outstretched to meet their brother. When they are but a hair away from touching, the audience can feel the tangibility of the magnetism drawing them together.
There are areas of 'In The Dark' which are problematic. They establish that their incarnations of James and Jamesy can talk from the opening. However this then shifts very quickly into the physical sequence (a true recitation of white-face clowning) before proceeding cunningly from silence to dialogue by use of repetition and simple phrasing. This section, I fear, went on far too long; a lot of the dialogue happened in the black permitting audience minds to drift off, mine included. A further switch then occurred with an acknowledgement of the audience as both performers clamber over seats and up the aisles to involve 'the other we'. Although highly entertaining for the audience to be included in this renewal of childhood play it felt as if too many comedic genres were colliding. It created the sense of a patchwork quilt, lovingly sewn but with a couple of holes that were in dire need of darning.
It is interesting to note that this piece is their origin story. 'I've just seen something I have never seen before' James announces pointing at Jamesy. To which Jamesy replies 'We is exactly the same' standing face to face before reassessing and raising himself up on tiptoe to reach his partner's height. In the chronology of their friendship, beloved by their fiercely loyal fans, this is the moment where brother meets brother, the straight man meets the funny man, where one half of ourselves discovers the other. Up until this point they believe they are alone in existence. From here on out they walk forward arm in arm.
Source: YouTube interview on 'little woo' channel: 'Follow your Fetish: Comedy, Clown, Theatre! The story of James and Jamesy In the Dark.'
By George Duncan
James & Jamesy In The Dark is a delightfully light hearted show which brings you into a the dark and interesting world lit solely by a lamp secured firmly to the heads of the show’s only characters, James and Jamesy. It is through the narrow perspective of the lamps the pair attempts to navigate the circumstances which lay before them.
As the show begins, we learn the two lamps will be the sole sources the pair will use to bring light to the stage, that is until James and Jamesy get warmed up. The pair launch into an enchanting sequence of miming that steels the audience’s attention. The meticulously choreographed movements were mesmerizing. I was amazed to hear the laughter of children fill the theatre and the audience’s reaction to the performers’ every move. Their quick witted, back and forth dialogue help Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles tell a story of how two men with lamps on their head end up together on the same stage.
The pair spends the first half of the show trying to figure out what it all means. The “who’s on first” slapstick style of humour makes this show a perfect fit for a family looking to spend an afternoon at the theatre. A funny and light-hearted display of clown and mime with a touch of improvisation had the audience in an uproar. The mid-point of the show has James and Jamesy stepping through the fourth wall and into the audience (literally) as they attempt to piece together their mysterious circumstances. As the show nears its end, at last they put it all together and finally the light bulb finally goes off in my head as to what it all means.
After a successful runs of 2 for Tea and High Tea, and the initial success of In the Dark at last years Vancouver Fringe Festival, James & Jamesy In The Dark is a unique theatre experience which teaches us not to be afraid of things we may not fully understand. I have never seen a show quite like this and it was a treat to see two very talented men offer up a rare and special theatre experience for Vancouver audiences to enjoy.