Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

2 for Tea staged by British to British with James and Jamesy, from Sussex UK.

A new style of fringe performance where the 2 actors capture all the iconic moments,the  popular images, and the  historical references that make “Britishness”. It’s nothing more than that! But because these elements are so popular, people catch them all immediately and they roar with laughter.

What is this “Britishness” then? It’s a cup of tea slithering out from the wings on the end of a gloved hand suggesting British Music Hall theatre,   it’s a full tea pot pouring out tea for that proverbial “Brew” on  Coronation street.  It’s even oblique references to the “tea party” in Alice in Wonderland; it’s placing the cups in exactly the perfect position on the table because it’s all about style, and good manners that become ridiculously overblown but not so for this very British show.

It’s also about pop culture icons like Mick Jagger _with the swivelling hips and the skinny legs – ; it’s about the civilised and extremely polite Englishman with the bowler hat who epitomizes a mass of British images including financiers on Fleet street and the clowns in Beckett’s theatre; it’s about being caught in the bombing of London during the World War II, it’s about the sense of family with the elderly parents who are awaiting the end and the final voyage that brings them up to their ultimate resting place with smiling faces, the stiff upper lip and all that.

Fused in with this were some extraordinary strategies  that make us aware of theatrical staging, and in so doing, they include the audience in the show. Some encounters were so well done that we were not sure if the people who came up were not plants, just awaiting their turn to get it on with the two actors.  But no, they were just as surprised as we were. There were unexpected directions given to the audiences , of the kind that developed with the great musical icons of the past who had the audiences standing, shrieking and waving their arms. But why this happened was not clear although they clearly  created an ambiance that inspired the young people to holler., laugh and jump spontaneously to their feet. It is a performance that has mastered the art of bringing the audience, seamlessly, into the show.

It was fun to watch, it was completely unexpected, it was both familiar and strange, it was "curiouser and curiouser" as Alice might have said, but it made for a fascinating show.

Try to get in. Opening night was jam packed and people were being turned away at the door so come early.

2 for Tea plays Tuesday 8h30; Thursday 10h30; Friday 8pm; Saturday 25th at 2pm at the Academic Hall.