opening this week

Freedomland
The resilient Theatre Vertigo tests out their new space with this Pulitzer-nominated dysfunctional family drama set in the confines of a historical New England home. Theatre Vertigo at the Russell Street Theater, 2512 SE Gladstone, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Apr 6, $15

one week only

Margaret Cho
Approximately one percent of the general populace loves Margaret Cho; the rest hate her. And yet, because there are over 250-million people in this country, she still has nearly three million devoted fans. And thus, the most annoying comedian since Roseanne Barr continues to flourish. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 224-4400, Thurs 7:30 pm, $39.50

Guerrilla Girls
As part of the Lewis & Clark Gender Symposium, the Guerrilla Girls will don their signature gorilla masks and high heels and utilize audience participation to create skits about feminism. Templeton Student Center, Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, 768-7381, Thurs 7:30 pm, free

Clowns Without Borders
More Tears of Joy, but this time instead of puppets, it's CLOWNS!!!! Far more terrifying, yet equally mesmerizing, these clowns will stilt-walk, juggle, perform magic, and flop around to earn money for their trip to Chiapas, Mexico, where they will perform at refugee camps. Tears of Joy at the Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 248-0557, Sun 7:30 pm, $5-$10

Sad, Sad Town
Jane Austen and Cirque du Soleil don't seem like the most likely combination, but the creators of this work-in-progress swear it's true: they will combine acrobatics with original text inspired by Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Jane Austen... and all within the tiny basement of the Brody Theater. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Sat 10:30 pm, $6

Vaudeville Revusical and Novelty Show
Complimenting the clown parade this week will be Miz Kitty's monthly vaudeville show. Tonight's event features ragtime music played on trash cans, belly dancing, and klezmer music. Miz Kitty's Parlour, at Artichoke Music Backstage Gate, 3130 SE Hawthorne, 232-8845, Sat 8 pm, $10

Three Plays Five Lives
Liminal continues to play Mad Scientist, dabbling maniacally with theatrical convention by performing three plays simultaneously, on three raked stages, with just five performers. This is just a sneak preview, but should be good anyway. Liminal Space, 403 NW Fifth, 890-2993, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $5

Closing this week

Child of Pleasure
The performances are nicely understated in William S. Gregory's play about the 17th-century philosopher-courtesan Ninon de L'Enclos, though the passionate and indulgent presence of L'Enclos herself is strangely absent. JWS Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Mar 15, $16-$18

Collage: "True Stories from the Inside"
Marguerite Scott unveils a slew of surreal characters both tragic and darkly comic in this one-woman show. Play Workshop Theatre at Coho Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh, 274-6838, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through Mar 15, $6-$10

Illegal Cock Fight
There's nothing fancy about the 3rd Floor. They make funny skits and they make them well. The 3rd Floor, at the Miracle Theatre, 525 SE Stark, 258-1681, Fri-Sat 11 pm, through Mar 15, $10

Orlando Eats Children With Wine
The latest in Vanity's solo performance series, Voices in the Wilderness, is by mask artist Alyssa Ravenwood and has a disturbing title made more disturbing by the fact it's a coming-of-sexual-age comedy. Vanity Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Mar 15, $10

The Laramie Project
This play about the murder of Matthew Shepard is issue-driven (gay prejudice) and gimmick driven (its structure stems from real-life interviews), which are two sketchy premises for a play. Fir Acres Theatre, Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, 768-7495, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, $8

current runs

The Woman in Black
A retired British chap tries to cope with freaky events in his past by reenacting them on a stage. If done well, this reality-blurring play can put quite a scare into you. Lakewood Theatre Company, 368 S State St, 635-3901, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through April 13, $21

Between two worlds
Nothing expresses the power of love to transcend life and death like a stage full of puppets, and nobody does puppets better 'round these parts than Tears of Joy. TEars of joy theatre, pcpa, 1111 SW Broadway, 248-0557, Sat 8 pm, through Mar 22, $10-$14

DANCE

Lucy Guerin
Who says they don't know how to shake it Down Under? Acclaimed Australian choreographer Guerin will present two new works, The End of Things, about a protagonist trapped by his daily compulsions; and Melt, a duet expressing through physical movement the transition from freezing to boiling. PICA at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 242-1419, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $23