Dazzling season of tours;Theatre Preview

5th February 1999 at 00:00
A strong season ahead with plenty on offer for younger audiences, from brief pieces for the very young to such plays as Junk, treating tough issues accessibly and sensitively.

The Tempest receives unconventional treatment at the hands of ATC, Jactito and Kaboodle, whose fusion of performance styles relates the play to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Kaboodle aim at new, young adult audiences and is one of many companies offering workshops.

Well-loved Trestle have no show just now but there's a new eight-strong team of workshop leaders offering mime and mask work in schools, based in Brighton, Northampton, Liverpool, Norwich, Hemel Hempstead besides London. Details: 01727 850950.

And Eastern Angles accompany their Days of Plenty with residencies involving education work in Harleston, DownhamMarket, Swaffham, Maldon, Saxmundham, Newmarket, Halesworth and March. Details from Gill Brigg on 01473 288232.

This listing is as complete and accurate as possible. It's advisable to check dates ( changes can occur) and age suitability beforebooking.


Electra Compass tour Sophocles' story of a daughter's revenge for her father's murder February 9-March 20 (0114 2755328). See also A Doll's House.

Twelfth Night Northern Broadsides at Stockton on Tees ARC February 8-13, Newcastle under Lyme New Victoria February 15-20, Oldham Coliseum February 22-27, Cheltenham Everyman March 1-6, Southend on Sea Palace March 8-13, Derby Playhouse March 16-27, Worksop Thoresby Park Indoor Riding School March 29-31, Skipton Auction Mart April 8-10, Barnsley Elsecar Building 21 April 14-17, Scarborough Stephen Joseph April 19-24, Barrow in Furness Forum 28 April 26-May 1, Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse May 11-22.

Macbeth Thelma Holt and Karl Sydow take John Crowley's production to Bath Theatre Royal to February 13, Sheffield Lyceum February 15-20.

Macbeth Traffic of the Stage take a kindly view of the ambitious twosome, as a pair who have apparently left out a large order with the milkrnan of human kindness. Politicians are the enemy in this early nineteenth-century set version, playing a mix of matinees and evenings at Canterbury Gulbenkian February 10, Gravesend Woodville Halls February 11, Bridport Arts February 23, Swindon Wyvern February 24, Ebbw Vale Beaufort February 25, Redhill Harlequin February 267 Hayes Beck March 27 Sheppey Little March 5-67 Ashton-under-Lyne Tameside Hippodrome, Halifax Victoria March 9, Clacton-on-Sea Westcliff March 12, Grantham Guildhall March 16.

Troilus and Cressida Royal Shakespeare Company, in repertory with A Month in the Country by Brian Friel from Ivan Turgenev, at Macclesfield Leisure Centre March 2-6, Coulby Newham Rainbow Leisure Centre March 9-13, Melton Mowbray King Edward VII Community Sports Centre March 16-20, Morecambe Festival Market Hall March 23-27, Braintree Leisure Centre Apnl 6-10, St Austell Polkyth Leisure Centre April 13-17, Dawlish Leisure Centre April 20-24, Grimsby Auditorium April 27-May 1, Brighton Moulsecoomb Community Leisure Centre May 18-22, Salisbury Downton Leisure Centre May 25-29, Pennth Ullswater Community College June 1-5.

Michael Boyd's may not be the subtlest Troilus but it's graphic and gripping. This is Shakespeare for the film age right up to the sudden closing image. From Paul Hamilton's thuggish Ajax through Sam Graham's devious commander Agamemnon to Sam Cox's studiedly ineffectual cuckold of a Menelaus the characters who, unaware, decide the lovers' fate are clearly etched. But it's strange the RSC and Brian Friel, both usually able to see below surfaces, should turn Turgenev's study of rural Russian society last century into a Fifties drawing-room comedy, however amiable.

The Tempest Jactito offer James Barton's adaptation with a control-freak Prospero changed into a tree by Caliban and his mum Sycorax at Maidstone Corn Exchange February 12, Coventry Warwick Arts Centre February 27, Newark Palace March 4, Northwich Harlequin March 6, Taunton Brewhouse March 11, Eastbourne Arts Centre March 16, Tiverton Blundell's School March 18, Chingford Primary March 19. Workshops on visual theatre and The Tempest available; details 0181 986 6906.

The Tempest ATC gives Nick Philippou's production de-Anglicises Shakespeare in league with with American playwright Steven Sater and musician Laurie Anderson, and with performance artist Rose English as Prospero at Bath Ustinov March 2-6, Stockton-on-Tees Arc March 9-10, Manchester Green Room March 11-12, Cardiff Sherman March 16-17, Gainsborough Trinity March 18, Worcester Swan March 23-27, Paisley Arts April 13, Stirling MacRobert April 14-16, Brighton Komedia May 11-13, Hemel Hempstead Old Town Hall May 14-15, Exeter and Devon Arts May 17-18, Banbury Mill May 19, Barnet Bull May 20-22.

Don Juan English Touring Theatre with Moli re's lusty rebel, in Kenneth McLeish's translation, at Crewe Lyceum April 26-29, Richmond Theatre May 4-8, Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal May 11-15, Bath Theatre Royal May 18-22, Malvern Festival May 25-29, Cambridge Arts June 1-5, Worthing Connaught June 15- 19, Oxford Playhouse June 22-26.

A Doll's House Compass tour Ibsen's domestic tragedy in repertoire with Electra to Poole Towngate April 14-17, Exeter Northcott May 5-15, Buxton Opera House May 25-27, Hull Truck June 8-12, Sheffield Crucible Studio June 15-19.

Three Sisters Oxford Stage Company take Sam Adamson's adaptation to Northampton Royal April 9-17, Cambridge Arts April 19-24, Salisbury Playhouse April 27-May 1, Coventry Warwick Arts Centre May 4-8, Oxford Playhouse May 11-22.

Happy End Clwyd Theatr Cymru with the Brecht-Weill gangster musical follow-up to Threepenny Opera at Connah's Quay Sports Centre February 25-27, Cowbridge Leisure Centre March 3-6, Haverfordwest Sir Thomas Picton School March 10-13, Chepstow Leisure Centre March 17-20, Porthmadog Glaslyn Leisure Centre March 24-27, Newport Lliswerry High School March 31-April 3, Mold Clwyd Theatr Cymru April 9-May 1, Derby Chellaston High School May 5-8.

The House of Bernarda Alba Shared Experience in Lorca's claustrophobic, poetic piece about a domineering mother with a craving for respectability visits Salisbury Playhouse March 11-20, Guildford Yvonne Arnaud March 22-27, Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse March 29-April 3, Richmond Theatre April 5-10, Oxford Playhouse April 19-24, Bath Theatre Royal April 26-May 1, Liverpool Everyman May 3-15, Edinburgh Royal Lyceum June 14-26.

A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur Graeae tour Tennessee Williams' story of passion in a sticky hot St Louis February 10-18 (0171 267 1959).


The Barbers of Surreal Forkbeard Fantasy at Alnwick Playhouse February 9, Darlington Arts February 11, Lancaster Nuffield February 12, Leicester Phoenix February 17, Sheringham Little February 19-20, Exeter Phoenix March 29-31.

The show that shows why surrealism is more fun in visual than verbal arts. The script often goes for little but the mix of film, video and live action claiming Carroll, if not Swift, as surrealist forebears is consistently inventive and often enough amusing over 80 minutes. Specialists can spot the surrealist allusions.

Black on White Shorts Paines Plough offer nine short plays by new writers as the northern leg of their Ticket to Write initiative at Newcastle upon Tyne Live Theatre March 30-April 1, Bolton Octagon Bill Naughton April 8-10, Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse April 19, Bristol New Vic April 22-24.

Blue Heron in the Womb Theatr Y Byd in Ian Rowlands' explosive view of a dysfunctional family at Clwyd Theatr Cymru April 7-8, Milford Haven Torch April 10, Brecon Theatr Brycheiniog April 14, Cardiff Sherman April 15-17.

Brassed Off Film comes to stage with live music as Barclays Stage Partners tour Paul Allen's adaptation of Mark Herman's screenplay to Sheffield Lyceum April 1-10, Cardiff New April 20-24, Norwich Theatre Royal April 27-May 1, Cambridge Arts May 4-8, Plymouth Theatre Royal May 11-15, Nottingham Theatre Royal May 18-22, Wolverhampton Grand May 25-29, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Theatre Royal June 1-5, Leicester De Montfort Hall June 8-12, Woking Ambassadors June 15-19, Manchester Palace June 22-26, Richmond Theatre June 29-July 3, Wycombe Swan July 6-11.

Cider With Rosie West Glamorgan Theatr Gorllewin Morgannwg, with Swansea Grand, in James Roose-Evans' version at Belfast Grand Opera March 15-20, Milford Haven Torch April 7-8, Porthcawl Grand Pavilion April 14, Newtown Theatr Hafren April 15, Brecon Theatr Brycheiniog April 17, Barnstaple Queen's April 19-20, Newbury Corn Exchange April 24, Aberystwyth Arts Centre April 27, Taunton Brewhouse April 30-May 1, Bangor Theatr Gwynedd May 4-5, Cardiff Sherman May 6-8.

Cleo, Camping Emmanuelle and Dick Royal National Theatre tour Terry Johnson's look at the declining fun among Carry-On caravaners to Guildford Yvonne Arnaud February 15-20, Malvern Festival February 23-27, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Theatre Royal March 2-6, Bath Theatre Royal March 8-13.

A Clockwork Orange Northern Stage Ensemble continue with Burgess's story of violence and aversion therapy at Brighton Gardner February 23-27, Malvern New Space March 2-6, Huddersfield Lawrence Batley March 9-13, Stockton-on-Tees ARC March 16-20, Nottingham Playhouse March 23-27, Preston Charter March 31-April 3. See also Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) The Reduced Shakespeare Company offers its bardic bits to August 14 (0171 439 1589).

With the super-fervour, not to mention the pressed collars-and-ties, of American evangelists the three young men of the RSC offer all 37 plays (with the sonnets thrown in for private reading) in 97 minutes. There's a penchant for tragedy. The least successful moment is the reading of a five act plot for a composite Shakespeare comedy; the histories are more tellingly dispatched, the struggle for the crown becoming a pass-the-ball team game. There's fun with Romeo and Juliet for starters and a nicely-dispatched rap Othello. The second half is devoted to Hamlet and involves the whole audience in an actor's revenge on workshopping. Finally the great Dane's story is fast-forwarded and rewound.

The Cosmonaut's Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union Paines Plough tour a play by leading young Scottish writer David Greig about two cosmonauts who are unaware the Cold War is over April 15-June 18 (0171 240 4533).

Days of Plenty Eastern Angles tour Ivan Cutting's story of East Anglian rural life in the late Sixtiesin that region March 2 to mid-June (01473 211498). See introduction.

Dusty Fruit Rejects Revenge in a play where clifftop removal men uncover a family's history February 8-March 20 0151 7088480).

Earth and Sky Southampton's Nuffield Theatre tour Douglas Post's murder play with a touch of the poetics about Chicago to Chichester Festival March 2-6, Guildford Yvonne Arnaud March 15-20, Darlington Civic March 22-27, Bradford Alhambra March 30-April 3, Wycombe Swan April 6-10, Cambridge Arts April 12-17, Bath Theatre Royal April 19-24, Malvern Festival April 26-May 1.

Evolution: Body Bouge-de-la Theatre combine physical theatre, contemporary dance and drama in the first part of their new evolutionary trilogy, this section focusing on genetics, in Southern England and Midlands plus Liverpool and Huddersfield to April 10 (01865 749583).

400 Jokes With The Devil Theatre Alibi tour a new piece based on innovative Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein February 24-May 12 (01392 217315).

Get Up and Tie Your Fingers NTC retour Ann Coburn's play about three fisherwomen caught up in the historical 1881 Eyemouth disaster when the town lost its fishing fleet to April 10 (01665 602586).

Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett is adapted by Geoffrey Cush at Coventry Belgrade February 15-20, Darlington Civic February 22-27, Swansea Grand March 1-6 (phone number???).

Haunting Julia Ayckbourn revives his ghostly play, touring between its Scarborough dates to Cheltenham Everyman February 16-20, Worthing Connaught February 23-27, Barnstaple Queen's March 2-6, Coventry Warwick Arts Centre March 9-13, Huddersfield Lawrence Batley March 16-20, Swindon Wyvern April 6-10, Wakefield Theatre Royal April 20-24, Harrogate Theatre April 27-May 1, Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal May 4-8 Hushabye Mountain English Touring Theatre offer Jonathan Harvey's play about the impact of Aids treatments, at Liverpool Everyman February 9-13, Darlington Civic February 17-20, Bracknell Wilde February 24-27, Brighton Gardner March 3-6, Cambridge Arts March 9-13, Manchester Library March 16-20, Poole Towngate March 30-April 3.

In Love With Anton Pilgrim Theatre company in Henry Grange's play based on an incident in Chekhov's life, mirroring the styles of both the Russian's early farces and later plays at Southampton Gantry February 6, St Albans Maltin's February 12, Bridport Arts February 20.

The Itch Kneehigh Theatre's show for over-12s is about desire, based on a Jacobean tragedy The Changeling, touring outdoor and unusual indoor sites June 14-August 30 (01872 223159).

Kevin's Bed Borderline in Bernard Farrell's comedy about family hopes and failures March 4-April 17 (01292 281010).

Kissing Sid James Hull Truck tour Robert Farquhar's comedy March 9-May 29 (01423 224800).

Learning the Paso Doble Stellar Quines with Dilys Rose's play about the effect on her family of the death of a larger-than-life lady April 1-May 8 (0131 343 3146).

The Lost Child (The Lost Child Trilogy, Part II) David Glass takes an Alice from Wonderland back to adult reality touring southem England, Birrningham, Manchester and Darlington to March 12 (0171 354 9200).

Mainstream Suspect Culture, the young and innovative Scottish company, with David Greig's piece unravelling lives on the morning after, set on a hotel beach February 19-March 14 (0141 2488052).

Making Noise Quietly Oxford Stage Company revive Robert Holman's three short plays about war and strange meetings at Oxford Playhouse to February 13, Cambridge Arts February 15-20, Manchester Dancehouse February 25-27, Edinburgh Traverse March 3-7.

Maybe Tomorrow Kaboodle tour Lee Beagley and Dominic McHale's 90-minute fusion of revenge as found in Shakespeare's Tempest and the technological Utopia confronting a supposed Savage in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Set in an island pleasure park during a future where communication is via screens, it has sound scapes and music for electric guitar by Andy Frizell, at Redhill Harlequin March 2, Leicester Phoenix March 3-4, Winchester John Stripe March 9-10, Oldham Sixth Form College March 16, Horsham Arts March 18; 20, Liverpool Unity March 23-April 1.

Messing With Medea Orchard Theatre in a retelling of Euripides' revenge tragedy at Jersey Arts Centre March 1-3, Plymouth Drum March 11-13, Barnstaple West Buckland School March 15.

The Nerd Objective Productions in Larry Shue's comedy about the guest from hell at Swansea Grand March 16-20, Llandudno North Wales March 22-24, Epsom Playhouse March 29-31, Lowestoft Marina April 1-3, Eastbourne Devonshire Park April 5-7, Canterbury Marlowe April 8-10, Ayr Gaiety April 12-17, Poole Towngate April 19-21, Worthing Pavilion April 22-24, Crawley Hawth April 26-28, Stevenage Gordon Craig May 3-5, Sunderland Empire May 10-12, Bridlington Spa May 13-15, Bradford Alhambra May 17-22, Swindon Wyvern May 24-26, Southend Cliffs Pavilion May 27-29, Truro Hall for Cornwall June 1-2, Dartford Orchard June 3-5, Coventry Belgrade June 7-12.

Peasouper Rejects Revenge in a Victorian melodrama pastiche to March 26 (0151 708 8480).

Perfect Days Edinburgh Traverse production of Liz Lochhead's comic tale of a middle-ageing Glasgow woman at Glasgow Citizens' February 16-27, Inverness Eden Court March 2-6, Aberdeen His Majesty's March 9-13, Edinburgh King's March 16-20, Dundee Rep March 23-27.

Perfect Pitch Hull Truck with John Godber on a campsite with two ill-sorted neighbours at Lincoln Theatre Royal February 8-13, Preston Charter February 17-20, Bath Theatre Royal February 22-27, Sheffield Crucible March 9-13, Harrogate Theatre March 16-20, York Theatre Royal March 23-April 3, Cheltenham Everyman April 12-17, Brighton Theatre Royal April 20-24, Cardiff Sherrnan April 27-May 1, Chester Gateway May 4-8, Worthing Connaught May 11-15, Halifax Victoria May 18-22, Mansfield Palace May 25-29, Scunthorpe Plowright June 1-5, Poole Towngate June 8-12, Hull Truck June 16-July 24.

Popcorn Ben Elton's anatomy of pulp violence continues its tour at Southend Cliffs Pavilion February 8-13, Nottingham Theatre Royal February 15-20, Belfast Grand Opera February 22-27, Plymouth Theatre Royal March 1-6, Birmingham Hippodrome March 8-13, Leeds Grand March 15-20, Northampton Derngate March 22-27, Edinburgh King's March 29-April 3, Oxford Apollo April 5-10, Liverpool Empire April 12-17, Manchester Palace April 19-24, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Theatre Royal April 26-May 1.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue Triumph tour Neil Simon's New York life after redundancy comedy to Oxford Playhouse February 15-20, Coventry Belgrade February 22-27, Richmond Theatre March 1-6 Malvern Festival March 8-13.

Samuel Pepys: the Secret Diaries Good Company in Dennis Saunders' lively portrayal of Restoration London at Manchester Palace February 25-27, Crewe Lyceurn March 8-13, Buxton Opera House March 15-20, Preston Charter March 22-27, Peterborough Key April 12-17, Eastbourne Devonshire Park April 19-24, Canterbury Marlowe April 26-May 1.

Sell Out Frantic Assembly tour Michael Wynne-scripted, TC Howard choreographed, Natasha Chivers lit piece to March 25 (01792 774888) This speedy, highly physical 70 minutes opens and closes with a birthday party, but the second time round we know a lot more about the four characters' infidelities. With a clearer text than some previous Frantic outings and superb physical expression, this is a show to which theatre students should relate well. Worskhops available for 14+.

Take Away Mu-Lan in Stephen Clark's picture of life backstage at the local Chinese at Liverpool Everyman April 27-May 1, Brighton Gardner May 5-8, Manchester Library May 11-15.

Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe's novel about harsh traditions in a Nigerian village and conflict with imported ideas is adapted by Biyi Bandele at Manchester Library March 9-13, Sheffield Crucible March 16-20, Plymouth Theatre Royal March 23-27, Bristol Old Vic March 30-April 3, Derby Playhouse April 6-10.

Things We Do For Love Lee Dean tours Ayckbourn's story of love in a boarding-house. At Bromley Churchill March 2-6, Coventry Belgrade March 6-13, Richmond Theatre March 15-20, Cardiff New March 22-27, Cambridge Arts March 29-April 3, Malvern Festival April 5-10, Norwich Theatre Royal April 19-24, Woking New Victoria April 26-May 1, Crawley Hawth May 3-8, Bath Theatre Royal May 10-15, Canterbury Marlowe May 16-22, Oxford Playhouse May 24-29, Sheffield Lyceum May 31-June 5.

Unleashed Hull Truck follows a mild-mannered mediocrity to sexy conference Amsterdam, February 15-May 15 (01482 224800) Up Against the Wall Black Theatre Co-operative's musical comedy, by Felix Cross and Paulette Randall, about a chartered accountant writing the all-time black musical, at Liverpool Everyman April 21-24, Bexhill-on-Sea De La Warr May 10-11, Gloucester Guildhall May 14-15, Ipswich Wolsey May 17-18, Bradford Alhambra May 21-22. Plus educational programme (0171 226 1225).

Vita and Virginia Sphinx take Eileen Atkins' account of the love and friendship between Bloomsbury stalwarts Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West to Coventry Warwick Arts Centre March 18-20, Leicester Haymarket March 23-27, Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal March 30-April 3.

The Weir The Royal Court sends out Conor McPherson's ghostly Irish tales to Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal February 10-13, Bath Theatre Royal February 15-20, Coventry Warwick Arts Centre February 23-27, Brighton Theatre Royal March 8-13, Oxford Playhouse March 15-20, Cambridge Arts March 22-27, Malvern Festival March 29-April 3, Liverpool Everyman April 6-10, Sheffield Lyceum April 13-17, Poole Towngate April 26-May 1.

The Wild Party The Mouse People's two actors embody 30-plus characters from swinging prewar Hollywood in an hour in Joseph Moncure March's once-banned jazz-age drama, complete with transforming art deco decor February 10 till reaching Bristol New Vic April 26-May 1 (0121 622 3255).

The Woman in Black Stephen Mallatratt's adaptation of Susan Hill at Darlington Civic February 8-13, Edinburgh King's February 15-20, Bromley Churchill February 22-27, Manchester Palace March 1-6, York Grand Opera House March 8-13, Cambridge Arts March 15-20.



21 Vision is a repertory comprising to date Cherry Orchard Basingstoke Haymarket February 9-13, Canterbury Marlowe February 18-20, stories from Isaac Bashevis Singer, Demons and Dybbuks, director Mike Alfreds' adaptation of James Elroy's The Black Dahlia Truro Hall for Cornwall April 15-17 and, joining them in spring Philip Osment's new play Buried Alive Exeter Northcott March 12-27, Poole Towngate May 25-29, about a photographer who finds his past the subject of others' scrutiny.

Mike Alfreds' ensemble is now four-fifths into their idiosyncratic odyssey through 20th-Century theatre forms. Their Cherry Orchard, with its 'the' and 'a'-less translation and Russian accents certainly gives a new feel to the piece, but the peculiarity becomes over-assertive through an evening. Their Isaac Bashevis Singer storytelling piece Demons and Dybbuks is fine ensemble playing in a strong production but Singer's own preoccupations, and particularly the women characters, limit this. The Black Dahlia is a fast, hard-pressing crime story translated well to stage and showing the advantage of this long-term ensemble with beautifully confident performances.


Ananse and the Skygod Tam Tam Theatre in thetraditional tale at Bury St Edmunds Theatre RoyalFebruary 15, Southampton Nuffield February 20,Norwich Arts Centre February 27, Huddersfield Moving Parts Festival April 9.

Bedtime Stories Cleveland Theatre Company at Barnet Bull February 28, Darlington Arts March 31, York Theatre Royal April 1-3, Brighton Festival May 10-15, Coventry Warwick Arts Centre June 12.

Charlotte's Web E B White's story, adapted for age five-plus by Joseph Robinette and co-director Chris Wallis, about a pig under threat befriended by a spider, visits Sheffield Lyceum February 9-13, Worthing Pavilion February 16-20, Southport Theatre February 23-27, Peterborough Key March 2-6, Glasgow Theatre Royal March 10-13, Chichester Festival March 23-27, Leicester Haymarket March 30-April 3, Cardiff New April 6-10, Plymouth Theatre Royal April 13-17, York Grand Opera April 27-May 1, Wolverhampton Grand May 4-8, Dartford Orchard May 11-15, Bradford Alhambra May 25-29, Bath Theatre Royal June 1-5, Malvern Festival June 8-12, Canterbury Marlowe June 15-19, Rhyl June 22-26.

China Song Clear Day tour Gary Carpenter and Simon Nicholson's musical fantasy from Hans Andersen's The Nightingale - also described as a Wizard of Oz for the 90s - from coproducers Plymouth Theatre Royal to Bristol New Vic February 17-20, Poole Towngate March 3-6, Swindon Wyvern March 17-19. Day and evening shows; contact theatres for details of schools' workshops.

Eric the Eaglet Jactito, day times, offer a puppet and object story at Windsor Arts Centre February 16, Cambridge Leisure Centre February 17, Cheltenham Everyman March 13, Bristol Old Vic March 20, Crawley Hawth April 17.

Fairytaleheart The Half Moon and Unicorn take Philip Ridley's fine two-handed melding of fairy-story and tale of modern youth, mainly day times, to Salisbury Playhouse February 6, Barnet Bull February 8, Hornchurch Queen's February 11, Coventry Warwick Arts Centre February 13, Havant Arts Centre February 18, Taunton Brewhouse February 20, Chelmsford Chancellor Hall March 25, Colchester Mercury March 31.

George and the Dragon Garlic Theatre's derring-do with puppetry for age five to 10 (0181 442 9111).

George's Marvellous Medicine Birmingham Stage Company continue with Roald Dahl at Liverpool Playhouse February 16-20, Whitley Bay Playhouse March 2-6, Darlington Civic March 16-20, Buxton Opera House March 23-27, Eastbourne Devonshire Park March 30-April 3 Ilfracombe Landmark April 7-10.

Grandpa's Jinn Nandita Ghose's short play is part of M6's multi-lingual Awaaz project investigating cross-cultural uses of language and form with music, dance, poetry and drama for age 8 to 16 at Romiley Forum March 4, Rochdale Arts amp; Heritage Centre March 6, Coventry Warwick Arts Centre March 10-11, Bury Met March 13, Birmingham MAC March 17, Oldham Grange April 13; 26-29; May 2, Rochdale Gracie Fields April 14; May 5, Burnley Mechanics April 15; May 7, Rochdale Wardleworth Community Centre April 24. Full details: 01706 355898 Harlequin in Trouble Norwich Puppet Theatre for age 5 to 11 at Southampton Nuffield February 13, Stirling MacRobert April 6, Glasgow Gilmorehill April 7, Paisley Arts April 8.

The excellent Norwich Puppet Theatre have a show that literally operates on several levels. Focus on the booth top and you have a colourful, sometimes highly comic 45 minute story of love and intrigue with 18th-Century sets and costumes. Only a modern radio warns there's more to this. Sure enough, look below and you can see the puppeteers at work, manipulating or replacing puppets, hanging the unwanted ones up on hooks, carefully fitting glove-puppets on the hands. The audience of five to nine-year-olds at Bedford's Stephenson Lower School was enrapt and took keenly to the question session following. School bookings are available. Contact: 01603 615564.

Jago's Box Action transport in Maggie Willett's play about friendship in wartime (0151 357 2120).

Junk Charles Stephens, with Oxford Stage Company, Manchester Library Theatre and Blackpool Grand, tours director John Retallack's adaptation of Melvin Burgess's novel, for age 14-plus, about heroin addiction to Wythenshawe Forum February 22-27, Blackpool Grand March 3-6, Lincoln Theatre Royal March 8-13, Billingham Forurn March 15-20, Croydon Ashcroft March 23-27, Aberdeen His Majesty's April 6-10, Mansfield Palace April 15-17, Stirling MacRobert April 19-24, Kirkcaldy Adam Smith April 26-May 1, York Theatre Royal May 3-8, Cardiff Sherman May 11-15, Crawley Hawth May 26-29, Coventry Belgrade June 1-5, Peterborough Key June 7-12.

The Last Tyger Travelling Light in a piece about a fierce animal in a fiercer urban world April 28-July 3 (0117 955 0086).

The Magic Book Action Transport tour Nick Fisher's play for 3-7s, about Ricki whose love of language leads her through a series of magical adventures (0151 357 2120).

Shock headed Peter Cultural Industry at Plymouth Theatre Royal April 20-24, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Theatre Royal June 15-19.

Out of Heinrich Hoffmann's children's fable, a 19th-century moral mix of the sickly and sinister, Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch have devised a comic and macabre visual spectacle, a toy house filling with colourful two-dimensional scenery and discovering an abundance of openings for music-combo the Tiger Lillies to appear with their slow, sustained and at times vicious songs, characterised by Martyn Jacques' sugar-screech falsetto singing. To sustain this for an evening requires - and receives - unusual inventive flair.

Sindbad the Sailor Garlic Theatre with Arabian Tales and puppetry for age five to 10 (0181 442 9111).

Skin into Rainbows Theatre Centre offer public and schools shows of Maya Chowdhry's play for age nine to 11, set in the future, about a 12-year-old girl who begins asking questions about what makes her different May 8-July 9 (0171 377 0379).

Snow Shoes Pop-Up take Michael Dalton's play for under-eights to Derby Playhouse February 9-12, Barnet Bull February 15-19, Lincolnshire rural venues February 23-27 (details: 0171 837 7588).

An hour about Christmas that doesn't need the festive season to make sense. Two characters start off commercially sending and receiving ridiculous presents by the boxful. A star shines on a distant mountain, leading one on an exploration and causing loneliness at home. A gentle piece, spare on text, about birth and friendship and with plenty of adventure.

The Sound Collector Quicksilver offer Roger McGough's piece for age four to seven about tolerating differences in friends April 21-July 3 (0171 241 2942).

Swanflight Roundabout tour Pete Lawson's one act play for primaries in Nottingham, city and shire, to March 26.

Think positive and the waddle of an ugly duckling becomes a swanflight. Roundabout have several evening performances which teachers might visit in schools to see this educational company's work. Four actors and a musician (an array of sensuous sounds plays an important emotional part in Geoff Bullen's admirable production) are surrounded by the audience for the duckling's adventures, which have comic moments but also mirror the fears of growing up in an ever-widening and less cosy urban world. The final joyous discovery of a mature individuality and self-worth is intensified by the production's physical skill and inventiveness. There's also a lot of material that could spin off into Literacy work. Performance details from Roundabout (Kitty Parker or Zoe Hurman): 0115 947 4361.

Theseus and the Minotaur Indefinite Articles for age 7 to 11 with a 50-minute show with tragedy and laughs in visual style. Also touring is Pinocchio to March 10 (01223 891622).

Visit The TES Theatre for Schools Web site for news, reviews and workshops: https:www.tes.co.uk

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