Very happy that Ed, Andy and I finished up on The Drowning Girls set last night in time for me to make it out to the 10 p.m. performance of Delicacy at Factory Studio Theatre, where I bumped into another Alumnae Theatre pal, Tina McCulloch. I’d heard a lot of good things about Delicacy and really enjoyed playwright Kat Sandler’s Help Yourself at Toronto Fringe this past summer, so I was really looking forward to seeing it. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Deliciously sharp and brutally funny, Delicacy (which Sandler also directed) is part modern-day comedy of manners, part exploration of modern relationships. Married couple Tanya (Tennille Read) and Mark (Andy Trithardt) invite into their home Colby (Kelly McCormack) and Len (Kaleb Alexander), a couple they met during their virgin visit to swingers bar Wicked. And an eventful, erotic first time it was. Opposites attract here – Tanya and Mark are perfectly put together, mid-30s urban professionals, living in a pristine white loft designed by Tanya (for the play, by designer Alain Richer, with Sandler). Perfectly chosen pieces of “important” art. Indoor shoes. Uptight is the first impression we get. Colby and Len, on the other hand, are 30-ish, hail from the suburbs, work in non-white collar jobs and engage in a decidedly “crazy” bohemian lifestyle – and are no strangers to the swingers scene. Secrets, as well as previously unexpressed thoughts and feelings, emerge throughout the course of the evening, as both couples are forced to confront some unpleasant issues facing their marriages.
Sandler’s sharp, quick-witted dialogue is in good evidence here and this stand-out ensemble is more than up for the challenge. Read and Trithardt do a lovely job of peeling back the mask of Tanya and Mark’s perfectly coiffed, charcuterie-serving, HBO-viewing exterior to the turmoil that lies beneath, with Colby and Len as the catalysts. Read’s already sexy Tanya blossoms with Len, from impervious ice queen to hot passion-flower, while Trithardt’s controlled Mark finds his wild side with Colby. Alexander and McCormack do an equally nice job of unfolding the raw emotion underlying Colby and Len’s playful, care-free lifestyle. McCormack is adorably kooky as Colby and Alexander is puckishly irreverent – but appearances can be deceiving and both possess a gravitas that belies their youthful, rowdy behaviour.
The audience got an additional laugh when, during a heated scene between Tanya and Mark, Trithardt needed to break the fourth wall to excuse himself to the washroom, prompting a brief unscheduled intermission for the audience. They were on their second show of the evening – and the actors consume a lot of liquid during this play. The audience was good-humoured about the break and some folks took the opportunity to use the loo themselves. Live theatre, folks – keeping it real. These guys are pros, and upon returning to the stage, they backed up the scene a bit and carried on.
Big laughs, big life questions and big heart – a thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre.
Delicacy has two more performances today (Sat, Nov 3): 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Check the Theatre Brouhaha site for details and reservations: http://theatrebrouhaha.com/portfolio/delicacy/