One-man show with the parents from Hull

7th March 2003 at 00:00
Tom Courtenay takes on Philip Larkin in this week's selection of hot tickets from Heather Neill

Larkin about

It is difficult to imagine the real Philip Larkin engaging a roomful of people in Alan Bennett-style chatter for a couple of hours, but Tom Courtenay manages to be convincing as the shy, bespectacled Hull poet-librarian. In Ian Brown's West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Pretending to be Me (now at the Comedy Theatre in London), he stands alone on a stage strewn with the detritus of moving house, telling his lifestory (minus the embarrassing bits involving women), making sideswipes at Ted Hughes and deftly weaving in well-chosen poems, smiling wryly at the fact that he is best known for a particular scatological line about mums and dads. And there is jazz, of course - the other Larkin passion. Tickets: 020 7369 1731 (see Treats column, facing page).

Shakespeare celebration

* The Bath Shakespeare Festival celebrates its fifth birthday until March 15 with productions from Germany, Zimbabwe, the United States and Georgia, featuring theatre, dance and mime. As well as events such as an academic symposium, mask-making, after school clubs and masterclasses, highlights include Hamlet performed to a jazz soundtrack, modern and classical music by six acrobatic dancers from Georgia, and a very African Taming of the Shrew from Zimbabwe. Tickets: 01225 448844.

* The National Theatre's Shakespeare Unplugged tour returns home for three performances on March 19, 20 and 21. This special production of The Tempest consists of a two-and-a-half-hour workshop followed by a 90-minute version of the play. Access the associated resource pack at www.nationaltheatre.

org.ukeducation. Primary age children are invited to a scaled-down, two-actor version that, for most, will follow school sessions. Details from website. Tickets: 020 7452 3000.

Picture-book classic

Edward Ardizzone, illustrator of more than 180 books between the 1930s and 1970s, including the Little Tim series of children's picture books, was also a commercial artist, official war artist and teacher. His instantly recognisable, cross-hatched, delicate but humorous style made him a favourite with adults and children alike. A selection of his etchings and lithographs, divided into themes such as Beaches and Boats, Lovers, Schools and Colleges is on show at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich until March 30.

The artist's son, Dr Nicholas Ardizzone, joint curator of the exhibition, will give a talk on March 19. Tel: 01473 433554.

On your toes!

There is something for everyone with the tiniest terpsichorean inclination in the Islington Dance Festival 03. From today until April 13, join in workshops, whether you are over 60, care for a toddler, want to discover black dance or are deaf. Find out about careers in dance, entertain the whole family or be part of Northern Ballet Theatre for a day.

Performances include Kwesi: dyna-mix on March 15 and 16. Speech, dance, music and graffiti art join up in a unique piece each evening. On March 27 and 28, Made in England is a platform of new South Asian dance with animations and an electronic score. Tickets: 020 7863 8000;

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