James and Jamesy light up the dark

Dynamic comedy duo whisk audiences into a magical playground of wonder.

Discovering yourself and the world around you is precious. Vancouver comedy duo Aaron Malkin and Alastair Kowles recently captured the essence and beauty of this discovery from an imaginative angle that wowed local audiences. Malkin and Kowles’ abstract comedic play, James and Jamesy in the Dark, took audiences on a fun journey using simple production elements, Pixar-like creativity and Charlie Chaplin-inspired vaudeville comedy.

The entire play, which nicely suited the somewhat intimate feel of the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island, took place in the dark. The only light emerged from lamp-like headpieces that Malkin and Kowles wore as part of their costumes. The two actors portrayed James (Malkin) and Jamesy (Kowles), two quirky counterparts who up until coming upon each other, believed they were the only living beings in existence.

From left to right: Alastair Knowles as Jamesy, and Aaron Malkin as James. Photo credit: Thaddeus Hink.

Audiences were treated to the intricately detailed and well-timed antics of the comedy partnership as they used movement and funny gibberish to communicate with and learn about each other. Malkin and Kowles’ choreographed staging, combined with an intelligent and beautiful lighting design, painted some lovely visuals onstage. With artistic collaboration from co-creator David MacMurray Smith, the duo artfully showed how two actors speaking gibberish can, with minimal costumes and sets, draw an audience in from the dark and whisk them off to another world.

On top of everything, the fourth wall in the show was completely shattered. Malkin and Kowles fed off audience participation, which added heightened energy and enjoyment to the play. However, the show wasn’t all fun and games. There were some interesting messages layered throughout, including the themes of life on other planets, and the meaning of life itself. Think of James and Jamesy in the Dark as a fun, quirky take on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

While James and Jamsey in the Dark has now concluded its Vancouver run, the show is sure to live on as a notable piece in Malkin and Kowles’ repertoire. Click here for information about Malkin and Kowles' next performances as James and Jamesy, including the upcoming B.C. tour of O Christmas Tea. The comedy partners are currently in the running for the prestigious Canadian Comedy Award for Best Live Ensemble. Stay tuned for the results.