Fest Best Bets
Can't get enough cutting-edge theatre? You'll be in heaven over two upcoming fests. The Theatre Centre's Free Fall festival of experimental performance hosts companies from across the country, including Toronto's emergency exit and Red , Vancouver's Boca del Lupo and Quebec City's Recto-Verso . Across town, Buddies in Bad Times' 28th Rhubarb! Festival has 21 mainstage shows, including works by Hannah Moscovitch , Michael Rubenfeld , Donald Carr , Tara Beagan and Noah Kenneally , as well as the Performance Creation Canada Conference and an indie theatre trade forum. Both fests also have ancillary events. Free Fall opens January 26 , with mainstage events at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West); 416-538-0988. Rhubarb! begins February 1 at Buddies (12 Alexander); 416-975-8555.
A good Moodie
Playwright Andrew Moodie explores a little-known figure in black history in The Real McCoy , about Canadian-born Elijah McCoy, a thermodynamics expert whose inventions revolutionized steam travel. When people wanted to be sure that what they were buying was genuine, they started asking for the real McCoy. Moodie directs a cast featuring Maurice Dean Wint in the title role, with Kevin Hanchard , Ardon Bess , Zainab Musa , Marcia Johnson , Bruce Beaton and Matt Deslippe . Previews January 28 and opens February 2 at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). 416-504-9971.
Sasso's sexy moves
Julia Sasso 's sensual show Beauty was one of the highlights of the 2004 dance season. She returns this winter with another full-length work destined to heat up audiences. The Betrayal Project promises to explore relationships - straight, gay and other - with her characteristic fearlessness. Sasso's group of dancers ( Michael Trent , Ray Hogg , Darryl Tracy , Molly Johnson , Neil Sochasky ) are asked to engage in moves that, according to the choreographer's statement, verge on the erotic ("masturbation", "violation"). They're also responsible for creating the work's score. Sounds like the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West) could become a hotbed of controversy. January 31 to February 4 . 416-973-4000.
Hitting the Ceiling
Not up on your relativity theory? Don't worry. Dancer/choreographer Lucy Rupert celebrates the centenary of Einstein's theory in The speed of our vertigoes , an exploration of the imagination's role in solving scientific problems. The piece, directed by the always intriguing Allyson McMackon , joins new works by Malgorzata Nowacka , J. Brian McDonald and Susan Kendal in a not-to-be-missed bill of theatrical dance. February 22 to 25 at Dancemakers Centre for Creation (Distillery, 55 Mill). 416-204-1082.
La vie en Rosa
Rosa Laborde , author of the impressive Fringe show Sugar, weaves together poetry, politics and sexual identity in Léo , a love triangle set in fearsome 70s Chile after the assassination of president Salvador Allende. The script, introduced at Rhubarb! a few years ago, has since been through the Tarragon's Playwrights Unit. Richard Rose directs Cara Pifko , Sergio Di Zio (both from TV's This Is Wonderland) and, as the title character who becomes one of Chile's desaparecidos (disappeared), Salvatore Antonio (whose own play, In Gabriel's Kitchen , opens March 7 at Buddies). Previews from February 7 and opens February 14 at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). 416-531-1827.
The Lord cometh
Can a stage production of Tolkien 's The Lord Of The Rings deliver the thrills and enchantment of Peter Jackson's three-part epic? That's the big question surrounding the world premiere of Shaun McKenna 's and director Matthew Warchus 's theatrical version, with music by A.R. Rahman and Värttinä , with Christopher Nightingale . We're promised multiple turntables and elevators, but the real magic has to come from the performers, who include Canadians Brent Carver , Michael Therriault , Evan Buliung , Richard McMillan , Dylan Roberts , Cliff Saunders and Carly Street . Previews from February 2 and opens March 23 at the Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King West). 416-872-1212.
... and The Lord laugheth
If you're not all LOTR'd out, head on over to Bad Dog Theatre, where some of the city's best comic actors are presenting The Lord Of The Things , their improvised take on The Fellowship Of The Ring. Past Bad Dog shows (Hairy Patter, A Twisted Christmas Carol) have been great, unpredictable fun. Be prepared to participate, and the bunch of Hobbits, elves and Orcs will interweave your suggestions into their show. The battle for Middle Mirth begins February 3 and runs every Friday that month. 138 Danforth. 416-491-3115.