My Gay Toronto - MGT Stage


Double duty, a foursome and puppets

by Drew Rowsome

Delicacy and Family Story run throughout the SummerWorks Theatre Festival from Thurs, Aug 8 to Sun, Aug 18.

Kaleb Alexander is very busy for the duration of the SummerWorks festival, "Doing two plays at the same time, no matter what the context, is very difficult and I have found my head spinning on numerous occasions when running back and forth from rehearsals." When the two plays are intense comedies but with vastly different tones and styles it is even more invigorating, "Delicacy asks questions that are often impossible to ask to your loved one and reveals inner truths about ourselves that aren't always pretty," says Alexander. "It is stupidly funny yet pulls tightly at my heart strings. Family Story is a blast because of its absurd humour and complete opposition to mainstream comedy - it turns theatre into a hilarious cartoon where all your favourite characters dance and play."

Alexander is prepared for the marathon, "Both plays have their challenges, from the quick wit and realism in Delicacy to the wacky voices and dance routines in Family Story. They aren't difficult to confuse but they are both physical and mental workouts and it truly is testing my endurance to keep up. As a former athlete I have performed under great duress and I believe that some of the greatest work can come out of working at one's maximum limits - it has worked for me in the past and I believe it is working with these two shows."

Balancing rehearsals was a matter of creative scheduling but Alexander also had lots of research to do, his solid Shakespearean and classical training did not prepare him for the provocative swinging in Delicacy or the puppetry in Family Story. "We were all the original cast of Delicacy," explains Alexander. "When we closed the show the first time we were all praying that we would get to remount it later because we love it so much. From my character's point of view the whole play is sexually provocative and does reference a Toronto hot spot for swingers." Alas Alexander admits that, "I did not do personal research into this aspect of the play."

And the puppets are an opportunity rather than a challenge. "I have in fact done some work with puppets before, I did a puppet workshop of Hamlet," says Alexander. "This was a lovely and fun opportunity to stretch my abilities as I am bit of a hobbyist for small odd things such as fire spinning, parkour and other random activities." Alexander is also known for his dancing and choreographic abilities. Family Story is created by Buddies' artists in residence Birdtown & Smallville and the website describes Alexander thus: "Once, on a dance floor, a circle of people formed around Kaleb and clapped in time while he busted his moves." Alexander laughs, "The ladies that run the company are amazing women that I have become close with and adore. And I have been known to go to Buddies on a Friday or Saturday night to party as it is such a blast."

Delicacy is an easy sell because of the comic wit and sexual fearlessness of author and director Kat Sandler, and Alexander is quick to unravel the somewhat convoluted premise of Family Story, "The venue itself has been transformed into a museum featuring the artifacts of the Milkafer family. The audience is introduced to the last living Milkafer, a woman who wishes to discover why she is such a loser.  She journeys back in time through her family history and the further back she goes, the more absurd the characters become to reveal the true nature of family. Along the way she meets some wildly absurd characters from the Beach Boys to some absolutely beastly characters." The words "beastly characters" are accompanied by an exaggerated wink implying that not only is Alexander doing double duty during SummerWorks but he is lending his considerable charm and attractiveness to characters (puppets?) who are beastly. And to a dinner guest who is Sandler-sexually provocative: He will be exhausted after the festival and so will the audiences.

Delicacy and Family Story run throughout the SummerWorks Theatre Festival from Thurs, Aug 8 to Sun, Aug 18.