Going out: Where a potted classic meets a magic brew

Heather Neill

Children's theatre

Dickens had a legendary sense of theatre, so adapting one of his best-loved novels for the stage might seem a good idea. But Great Expectations is difficult to condense into less than two hours and, brave though John Clifford's effort is for Unicorn Productions, characters such as Uncle Pumblechook and Herbert Pocket are sorely missed. But the children I took to the Pleasance in north London were, nevertheless, spellbound.
Recommended age range, nine-14. Related education and family events programme, tel: 020 7609 1800; www.unicorntheatre.com .

Theatre Alibi's Teapot, by Daniel Jamieson, is about asking and answering questions, the sort enjoyed by children from five upwards, such as: "What's the cat really thinking now?" An old lady digs up a muddy teapot and a magic journey to answer impossible questions begins.
Touring in Devon and Cornwall until December. Information: 01392 217315;
www.theatrealibi.co.uk .


Novelist Irvine Welsh visited Afghanistan in 2001 and was impressed by the way photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith's images portrayed the work of Unicef there. He had the idea for a show and the result is Childscapes: a pictorial journey through the UN Convention on the rights of the child. The exhibition of 120 photographs brings together moving and startling images of children in Thailand, Iran, Uganda and elsewhere in the developing world by Trayler-Smith, Tom Craig and Charles Hart.
Proud Galleries, Buckingham St, London WC2. Information:
www.unicef.org.uk ; www.proud.co.uk . All money raised goes to Unicef.

Contemporary art

At the Mappin Art Gallery in Sheffield, winners of Beck's Futures 2002 competition show their response to urban life, its excitement and squalor. The 11 up-and-coming artists featured include overall winner Toby Paterson, specialising in film, video, painting and photography.
Until January. Tel: 0114 278 2600.


Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith sparkle in David Hare's Breath of Life at the Haymarket Theatre in London. Two sexagenarians meet to discuss the man they have shared, now absconded with a younger woman. Dame Maggie, the mistress, has all the best lines and provides a masterclass in timing, but the play is static and the opportunity for genuine, equally balanced fireworks lost.
Tel: 0870 901 3356.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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Heather Neill

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