RHUBARB! a festival of new, cutting-edge performance. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander). Opens Wednesday (February 5) and runs to February 23, Wednesday-Sunday 7:30 pm, Under 21 readings Saturday-Sunday 4:30 pm, panels Feb 8, 9, 15, 22 at 1 pm. $15, $25 week pass, $50 festival pass. 416-975-8555.
keyed by Dave Tomlinson, directed by Steve Morel, with Tomlinson and Brian Sills. February 5-9 at 8:30 pm. Rating: NNNNN
Dave Tomlinson's last show was called Things Under The Bed. His new piece could be called Guys On Top Of The Bed.Keyed deals with two platonic gay friends who after a night of partying realize one of them's lost his keys. Is it OK if he stays over?
"I was interested in what might happen when you have a friend and there may or may not be something there, and you unexpectedly wind up alone together, drunk and high at 3 in the morning," laughs Tomlinson, who wrote an earlier version of the piece as an exercise for Steve Morel's 30 Days = 3 Plays night nearly a year ago.
Tomlinson wanted to write a comedy for himself and his actor friend Brian Sills, one that captured the rhythms and dynamics of their friendship. "We've got this great rapport. He makes me laugh so hard, and we always say these smart, fun things to each other."
Tomlinson plays Kieran, who's currently in a relationship and enjoys processing issues of right and wrong; Sills plays Mitchell, who's single, more easy-going and more manipulative in his desire to have fun.
"It's a fascinating meditation on relationships," says Tomlinson. "The idea of open and closed relationships is familiar to most gay men, yet I've never seen it discussed onstage."
One of Tomlinson's best performances, in fact, dealt with gay relationships. In a now classic Queer As Folk first-season episode, he played the guy Emmett meets in a dance club. Over the course of a single night, they play out an entire relationship, including a betrayal and breakup.
He's also known as one-half of the sketch comedy duo Glyph, paired with Second City's Lex Vaughn .
"I hail from the land of comedy," he says half-joking, "and I'm trying to build a bridge to get to other places."
The blueprints for that bridge already seem completed. Tomlinson's finished a second 20-minute scene for Keyed and envisions two more segments charting the relationship of Kieran and Mitchell over several months. The final piece should be ready in 2005.
It doesn't hurt that writing the piece coincides with Tomlinson's being in a relationship himself -- the longest to date.
"I can now write a play where people are sorting out their shit," he says, "because I've had to do just that."