Portraits in the ramparts
The National Portrait Gallery has gone west - to Wales.
Galleries opened last week at Bodelwyddan Castle in Denbighshire display more than 100 portraits from the 19th-century collection, including works by John Singer Sargent and the Pre-Raphaelites. The inaugural special exhibition, The National Portrait Gallery Collects, includes recent acquisitions such as Lewis Carroll's photographs of Alice Liddell, and Neil and Glenys Kinnock by Andrew Tift. The permanent displays include an interactive exploration of three group portraits under the title A Sense of Occasion. Information: www.bodelwyddan-castle.co.uk.
Drawings and sculptures from Robin Hood primary school, Leeds, will be on display as part of Recollection at the Craft Centre and Design Gallery in the city. The children worked with artist Samantha Bryan, whose work is also part of the exhibition, which brings together ceramics, drawings, jewellery and other objects on the theme of childhood. Tel: 0113 247 8241; www.craftcentreleeds.co.uk.
Miffy on tour
Dick Bruna's storybook character has arrived in Birmingham, where she will stay until June 1 at the Centre for the Child in the Central Library. Books and posters are on display and storytellers are on hand to read from Bruna's books, showing the relationship between words and pictures. Craft activities include making Miffy masks and ears. Miffy the rabbit will attend the Book Bonanza Bash at Aston Hall on May 25 and 26. On June 6, Miffy at the Library moves to Gateshead, followed by Leeds, Ravenshead, Manchester, London (Barbican and Stratford) and Reading.
Birmingham information: 0121 303 2421.
What was happening in Spain when Shakespeare was writing his plays? Well, his contemporary Lope de Vega was living life to the full - a sailor in the Armada, a bigamist, sometime priest, prisoner and poet, he wrote some 800 plays. One of them, Peribanez, is tightly directed by Rufus Norris with atmospheric music by Orlando Gough at the Young Vic in London.
Tragedy and comedy mix in an exciting tale of class, honour and jealousy as military chief fancies blameless peasant wife. Tickets: 020 7928 6363.
Meanwhile, Michael Grandage directs Albert Camus's existentialist play, Caligula, in which the mad emperor exemplifies the absurdity of human existence in a riveting performance by Michael Sheen, all angelic curls and diabolical smile, at the Donmar Warehouse. Tickets: 020 7369 1732.
Chortle, gurgle and belly-laugh at the Manchester Royal Exchange this summer. Tony Burgess's Doorway (June 4-7) is billed as a surreal exploration of homelessness by some of the city's finest comedy talent. John Thomson - comedy late amp; live (June 13, 11pm) showcases Thomson in an evening of stand-up and impersonations, while Tommy Tiernan, Perrier Award Winner 1998, sweeps in from Ireland on July 11 (11pm). Tickets: 0161 833 9833.