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Onoff stage

Bells are jingling, puddings are steaming, bank balances are dwindling. What to do? Go to the theatre, of course.

What sounds like one of the more far-flung theatrical escape routes this season is Yule Better Change, presented by the Liverpool-based Wiggy Theatre Company at New End Theatre, Hampstead.

Written and directed by Michael McArdle, it is "inspired by" Dickens's A Christmas Carol but with a few twists. Instead of those spooky and sad ghosts who visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve, this rock 'n roll comedy has visitors from American pop culture.

Buddy Holly, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis himself come to plague, admonish and cajole the bitter old miser in what could be just the thing you need to fortify yourself against the bickering over who holds the remote and how to rejuvenate desiccated turkey. It runs from December 30 to January 4. Box office: 0171 794 0022.

For something a tad more serious, I'd go for Tobias and the Angel, an adaptation of the Biblical story about a young boy and his relationship with the Archangel Raphael. It's being presented by the acclaimed Sheffield Youth Theatre, under the direction of Meg Jepson. There is still one remaining performance in London at the Steiner Theatre on January 3. Tickets: 0114 288 2929.

The following is a selection of some rather more commercial offerings in London over the Christmas season: The Witches by Roald Dahl at the Vaudeville Theatre until January 18 (0171 836 9987); The Roly Poly Pudding by Oily Cart for under-fives at Lyric Theatre Studio until January 4 (0181 741 2311); Jack and the Beanstalk at Watermans until January 5 (0181 568 1176); Mother Goose with Ronnie Corbett at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, Kent until January 19 (0181 460 6677); Aladdin at The Civic, Old Kent Road until January 1 (0171 732 3232); Listen to the Wind, revival of the Vivian Ellis musical at the King's Head Theatre, Islington until January 19 (0171 226 1916); Guards! Guards! adaptation of Terry Pratchett fantasy for over-10s at The Grace Theatre, The Latchmere, Battersea until January 11 (0171 223 3549); Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood at the Wimbledon Theatre until January 26 (0181 540 0362).

Another Aladdin, with Bonnie Langford and Bernard Cribbins, is at the Richmond Theatre until January 25 (0181 940 0088); Babes in the Wood at the Beck Theatre, Hayes, Middlesex until January 18 (0181 561 8371); Peter Pan with former Blue Peter presenters Diane Louise Jordan and Peter Duncan at Lewisham Theatre until January 19 (0181 690 0002); Puss in Boots by Roy Hudd at the Palace Theatre, Watford until January 11 (01923 225671); Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Who Tried to Eat Her at the Puppet Theatre Barge, Little Venice until February 23 (0171 249 6876).

Finally, Great Expectations, for over-12s by Level Five Theatre Company, is at Chelsea Centre, World's End Place until January 4 (0171 352 1967).

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