Blue Remembered Hills and Celf Theatr Clwyd productions share seasons at Aberystwyth Great Hall May 5-9, Harlech Theatr Ardudwy May 12-14, Newtown theatr Hafren May 16 (matinee and evening), Bangor Theatr Gwynedd May 19-23, Brecon Theatre Brycheiniog May 26-30.
The Herbal Bed The RoyalShakespeare Company Production of Peter Whelan's fine play about murder in Shakespeare's back garden visits Nottingham Theatre Royal February 23-28, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Theatre Royal March 2-7, Bath Theatre Royal March 9-14, Richmond Theatre March 16-21, Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse Quarry March 23-28, Cambridge Arts March 30-April 4, Edinburgh King's April 7-11, Sheffield Lyceum April 14-18, Swansea Grand April 27-May 2, Malvern Festival May 4-9, Canterbury Marlowe May 12-16, Croydon Ashcroft May 18-23, Darlington Civic May 25-30, Salisbury Playhouse June 1-6, Oxford Playhouse June 8-13, Hull New June 15-20.
Shopping and Fucking Out of Joint and the Royal Court revive Mark Ravenhill's brutal morality Plymouth Theatre Royal February 10-14, Newcastle Playhouse February 16-21, Oxford Playhouse February 23-28, Bath Theatre Royal March 4-7, Swansea Grand March 9-14, Cardiff Sherman March 16-21, Westcliff Palace March 30-April 4, Chester Gateway April 6-11, Colchester Mercury April 20-25, Nottingham Theatre Royal April 27-May 2, Glasgow Citizens' May 4-9, Manchester Library May 11-16, Northampton Theatre Royal May 18-23, Brighton Theatre Royal May 26-30, Sheffield Crucible June 1-6.
It Started With A Kiss Hull Truck take Godber's new piece to Swansea Grand February 9-14, Crewe Lyceum February 16-21, Sheffield Crucible February 24-28, Coventry Warwick Arts Centre March 3-7, Cheltenham Everyman March 10-14, Preston Charter March 18-21, Cambridge Arts March 23-28, York Theatre Royal March 31-April 11, Poole Towngate April 14-18, Buxton Opera House April 20-25, Darlington Civic May 4-9, Southend Palace May 11-16, Halifax Victoria May 18-23.
Working class northerner Richard North mixes with weird aliens from the middle class when he arrives for mid-seventies Drama teacher training. In the three-year course he comes to terms with the idea of studying and finds himself better able than most to face the classroom. Godber recalls student experiences well - Babs, the trendy but career-doomed lecturer is the weakest character of the six - and several strong performances provide a lot of comic gloss, including the extended rehearsal from hell of a student 'Julius Caesar'. Tinged with hope, decked out in jokes, it's a memory trip for the middle-aged and a chance to assure the young it can't be like that any more.
April in Paris Hull Truck also revive Godber at Jersey Arts March 23-29 and on one or two night dates to May 18.
The Clearing Stellar Quines take HelenEdmundson's fine play (see Edinburgh) round Scotland March 26-April 25 (details 0131 343 3146).
Lenya Live Theatre with Phil Woods' play at Paisley Arts February 19, Darlington Arts February 26, Seaburn Community Centre February 27, South Shields Custom House February 28, Helmsley Arts March 28.
A one-woman show tracing the life, love and infidelities of Mrs Kurt Weill, including (disparaging) memories of Brecht and the first production of 'The Threepenny Opera'. This was what it was like for one wild child living through the crazy 'Cabaret' years.
Telling Tales Kneehigh in a strong performance potpourri of traditional tales till March 21 (Details 01872 223159).
The Swell Theatre Alibi (see Exeter) tour the South West February 18-April 2 (details: 01392 217315).
A Second Chance at Happiness English Touring Theatre offer two plays on family relationships, Judith Johnson's Shellfish and Marty Cruikshank's A Difficult Age sharing seasons at Crewe Lyceum March 25-April 4, Liverpool Everyman April 7-18, Coventry Warwick Arts April 28-May 2, Poole Towngate May 5-9, Cambridge Arts May 12-16.
Gulp Fiction - ethnic humour - or else -from Gee-Store at Manchester Nia Centre February 8-9, Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse February 11-15, Oxford Playhouse February 19, Liverpool Neptune February 21, Wellingborough Castle February 22, Nottingham Playhouse March 2, Watford Palace March 14-15, Coventry Belgrade March 16.
The Snow Palace Sphinx tour Pam Gems' play about a Polish writer dramatising her paternal conflicts as the struggle between Danton and Robespierre Barnstaple Queen's February 11-12, Taunton Brewhouse February 16-18, Brighton Gardner February 20, Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal February 23-24, Plymouth Drum March 5-7, Coventry Warwick Arts March 9-11.
Sleeping Around Paines Plough take frank new play on relationships (aka sex - see Salisbury) to South and Midlands, plus Yorkshire and Wales to May 30 (0171 240 4533).
Get up and Tie Your Fingers
NTC with Anna Coburn's play about fisherwomen during the Eyemouth disaster of 1881 when 20 boats were lost, May 1-June 13 (details 01665 602586).
The Hansel Gretel Machine David Glass Ensemble in the first part of a new phyiscal theatre 'Lost Child Trilogy' (to be completed by 2000 AD) relating Grimmly to children lost, runaway, exploited and abused in the modern world and developed through work with young people around the world. Bath Ustinov Studio February 10-14, Musselburgh Brunton February 17-18, Burnley Mechanics February 20-21, Birmingham MAC February 26-28, Stirling MacRobert March 3, Gloucester Guildford Arts March 5, Brecon Theatr Brycheiniog March 6, Worthing Connaught March 16-17, Bexhill De La Warr March 19, Cambridge Junction March 23-24, Newbury Corn Exchange March 26-27.
Iced Black Theatre Cooperative take their co-production with Nottingham Playhouse of Ray Shell's drugs play to Brighton Gardner Arts February 17-18, Leicester Phoenix February 24-25, Watford Palace March 3-7, Gloucester Guildhall March 13-14, Crawley Hawth March 24-25, Birmingham Drum March 27-29, Bristol Old Vic March 31-April 4.
One of two touring drugs plays adapted from novels (Junk on heroin, Iced on crack cocaine) Shell's account of Cornlius Washington Jnr's drugs journey emerges through his present-time confrontation with female investigating Dr Dulight. Handsomely staged on Carla Eve Amie's stark set it remained distanced at the Nottingham Playhouse opening.Probably a smaller venue will allow the piece more emotional punch on top of its well-told story.
Pleasure Forced Entertainment performance piece Newcastle-upon-Tyne Gulbenkian February 10-11 , Cardiff Chapter February 19-21, Wolverhampton Arena February 24-25.
I Am A Coffee Peepolykus tour to March 28 (details: 01684 540366).
Two ends of the physical spectrum. Pleasure is a grim business with Forced Entertainment despite repeated onstage demands to get a move on as the action grinds with deliberate slowness. Hawaiian skirts sway and sag, a pantomine horse lollops around, urinates and weeps. Romantic standards - 'Love is a many Splendoured' thing, 'Around the World' - rumble reluctantly from an old gramophone at very few rpms. At a cutting-edge performance so sharp it shaved off several of its audience during the 75-minute proceedings, its grim pleasure comes in the contrast between the skill and the concentration involved in producing the lassitude in which events are ironically doused.
In Peepolykus shows someone gets stuffed. In the sublime Let the donkey go a character had to ingest a pack of digestive biscuits: here a postman from the future takes communion before delivering a postcard to the Pope (don't ask why) and has a wafer multiply into a bready tornado. The three actors play off each other and with audience expectations brilliantly over 85 minutes, and unless the idea of a dead fish being hard of herring isn't your cup to tea go for I Am a Coffee. People like us, the company name reads out, and believe me they do.
A Midsummer Night's Dream Tara Arts visit Romiley Forum February 10-11, Mansfield Palace February 12-14, Bury St. Edmunds Theatre Royal March 3-7, Birmingham Repertory Theatre March 10-14.
Romeo and Juliet Royal Shakespeare Company at Ellesmere Port Epic Leisure February 17-21, Kendal Leisure February 24-28, Barrhead Sports March 3-7, Northallerton Hambleton Leisure March 10-14, Tiverton School March 17-21, Telford Wrekin College March 24-28, Melton Mowbray King Edward VII Upper School March 31-April 3, Littleport Leisure April 21-25, Newport Isle of Wight Medina Leisure April 28-May 2 Haywards Heath Dolphin Leisure May 5-9, Sunderland Seaburn Centre May 19-23.
Romeo and Juliet Royal Salisbury Playhouse production at Brighton Theatre Royal February 24-28, Woking New Victoria March 3-7, Dartford Orchard March 10-14, Bradford Alhambra March 24-28, Blackpool Grand March 31-April 4, Richmond Theatre April 21-25, Croydon Ashcroft April 28- May 2, Nottingham Theatre Royal May 5-9, York Grand Opera House May 12-16, High Wycombe Swan May 19-23, Cheltenham Everyman June 2-6, Bath Theatre Royal June 8-13.
Richard III Northern Broadsides revive their Yorkist saga Worksop Indoor Riding Stables February 9-11, Elsecar Building 21 February 12-14, Coventry Warwick Arts February 16-21, Barrow in Furness Forum 28 March 2-7, Mold Theatr Clwyd March 9-14, Poole Towngate March 16-21, Scarborough Stephen Joseph March 23-28, Cheltenham Everyman March 30-April 4.
Kaboodle leave Liverpool Everyman February 17-March 21 for Brighton Gardner March 23, Wolverhampton Arena March 24-25, Manchester Dancehouse April 14-15, Burnley Mechanics April 16-17, Horsham Arts April 20-22.
Much Ado About Nothing Cheek by Jowl at Cheltenham Everyman February 12-14, Cambridge Arts February 17-21, Bath Theatre Royal February 24-28, Sheffield Lyceum March 3-7, Darlington Civic March 10-14 Macbeth Jactito at Truro Hall for Cornwall February 9-10, Andover Harrow Way School February 12, Horsham Christ's Hospital February 13, Gainsborough Trinity Arts March 3, Barnet Bull March 5, Wakefield Theatre Royal March 17-18, Worksop Regal March 31.
The Tempest Compass visit York Theatre Royal February 19-28, Camberley Artslink March 3-4, Newport Isle of Wight Medina March 5, Bexhill De La Warr March 6, Redhill Harlequin March 7, Buxton Opera House March 10-14, Taunton Brewhouse March 17-21, Cardiff Sherman March 24-28, Worthing Connaught March 31-April 4, Harrogate Theatre April 14-18, Aberystwyth Arts April 21, Harlech Theatr Ardudwy April 22, Brecon Theatr Brycheiniog April 23-24, Builth Wells Wyeside April 25, Ormskirk Rose April 28, Shrewsbury Music Hall April 29, Rhyl Pavilion May 1, Tunbridge Wells Trinity May 2, Burnley Mechanics May 5-6, Berwick-upon-Tweed Maltings May 8-9, Chelmsford Chancellor May 12, Milton Keynes Woughton May 13, Pwllheli Neaudd Dwyfor May 14, Bangor Theatr Gwynedd May 15-16, Farnham Redgrave May 18-20, Swansea Taliesin May 21-22, Abergavenny Borough May 23, Bracknell Wilde May 26-30, Scunthorpe Plowright June 1, Winterbourne Ridings High School June 3, Bury St. Edmunds Theatre Royal June 4-6, Derby Guildhall June 8, Wellingborough Castle June 10-11, Newbury Corn Exchange June 12-13, Sheffield Crucible Studio June 16-20, Carlisle Stanwix June 23, Darlington Arts June 24, Hexham Queen's Hall June 25-26, Alnwick Playhouse July 2, Richmond Georgian July 3, Wallingford Corn Exchange July 4, Bridport Arts July 9, Stamford Arts July 10-11, Jersey Arts July 12-16.
With bare stage, full lighting and modern dress (apart from that blast from the past Queen Margaret) Barrie Rutter's revival of Northern Broadsides' initial production of Richard III might seem almost too casual. It isn't. Clarence's two killers veer between fear and violence with unusual clarity, the items of clothing from Richard's victims which collect on the wire mesh that is almost the entire set have a gruesome comedy (a reminder this play lies behind Brecht's 'Arturo Ui' as a gangster horrorshow) until they grindingly clinch his fate as the victims' ghosts recollect them in Richard's pre-Bosworth nightmare. The battle itelf feels spectacular as Richard and Richmond lead their troops round the stage mounted on two-wheel trolleys, the armies breaking into the clog-dancing which had earlier represented the Yorkist royal revels. It's a strong cast with Rutter's Richard outstanding, moments of mirth always flashing with menace, his contempt for the victims he verbally seduces making the boar-king an anti-human demon, his defensive pretences broken once in a revealing roar of agony when a young princes leaps unnannounced onto his deformed back.
The RSC's Romeo and Juliet garnered good opinions but by the end of last year it seemed largely sunk in undifferentiated shouting; even Richard Cordery's initially sympathetic and very human friar falling eventually into the act. Best are Sandra Voe's bustling Nurse and Jan Chappell's Mrs Capulet, who you feel really would break outside polite society and the law if anyone had hurt her daughter. Zoe Waites' Juliet is undermined in her post-ball soliloquy by the paltry balcony on which she has to perch.
Tartuffe Mobil Touring Theatre at Blackpool Grand February 10-14, Richmond Theatre February 16-21, Birmingham Alexandra March 2-7, High Wycombe Swan March 9-14, Aberdeen His Majesty's March 17-21, York Grand Opera House March 23-28, Bath Theatre Royal March 30-April 4, Cambridge Arts April 6-11, Edinburgh King's April 14-18.
Tartuffe Mappa Mundi at venues through Wales to March 8 (details 01222 340503).
The Relapse Glasgow Citizens' take Philip Prowse's Vanbrugh revival to York Theatre Royal February 10-14, Norwich Theatre Royal February 17-21, Plymouth Theatre Royal February 24-28, Guildford Yvonne Arnaud March 3-7, Liverpool Royal Court March 10-14, Bath Theatre Royal March 16-21.
The London Cuckolds Royal National Theatre tour of Edward Ravenscroft's post-Restoration comedy Bath Theatre Royal April 28-May 2, Sheffield Lyceum May 5-9, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Theatre Royal June 16-20, Nottingham Theatre Royal June 23-27.
Wuthering Heights Good Company take William Ash's version to Peterborough Key February 9-14, Aberdeen His Majesty's February 17-21, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Theatre Royal February 23-28, Stevenage Gordon Craig March 2-7, Lincoln Theatre Royal March 16-21, Darlington Civic March 23-28, Belfast Grand Opera March 31-April 4.
The Cherry Orchard Method and Madness at Poole Towngate February 10-14, Huddersfield Lawrence Batley May 5-9, Truro Hall for Cornwall May 12-16, Bexhill De La Warr May 20-23. Second production in M M's three-year repertory will be a story from Isaac Bashevis Singer Demons and Dybbuks Bracknell Wilde March 24-28, Liverpool Everyman March 31-April 4, Cambridge Arts April 28-May 2.
Roots Oxford Stage Company take Wesker's play back to its roots - it opened the first new repertory theatre post-world War II - at Coventry Belgrade April 14-18 then Bury St. Edmunds Theatre Royal April 21-25, Cheltenham Everyman May 6-9, Oxford Playhouse May 11-16, Worthing Connaught May 19-23.
Oh What A Lovely War the National take a tent on tour to house the Great War musical with Mamaloucos Circus somewhere at Swanley March 19-21, Thurrock March 24-28, Milton Keynes March 31-April 4, Brecon May 5-9, Telford May 12-16, Dewsbury May 19-23, Chester May 26-30, Aberdeen June 2-6, Salisbury June 10-13, Nottingham June 16-20.
Sweeney Todd Theatr Clwyd tour Sondheim's musical to Neath Sports Centre February 11-14, Aberystwyth Great Hall February 18-21, Haverfordwest Sir Thomas Picton School February 25-28, Newport Pillgwenly Sports Centre March 4-7 (tickets for all venues: 0800 783 4830).
For young people
Two Oxford Stage Company productions for their second Making the Future programme aimed at young audiences with serious intent. John Retallack adapts Melvin Burgess novel Junk Dartford Orchard February 18-21, Taunton Brewhouse February 24-28, Huddersfield Lawrence Batley March 4-7, Bristol Old Vic March 9-28. Plus Jane Buckler's new play for 8-11s Johnny Blue, Where Are You? on bereavement daytimes Thursday and Saturday at these theatres.
John Retallack's admirable aim of searching out work for 14 to16-year-olds, an age range he sees as wooed by cinema but avoided by theatre, has brought this adaptation of an award-winning novel based on real lives. Burgess avoids preaching by moving his story forward in jumps between various characters' narratives. Yet the different voices are ironed out on stage where direct address to the audience just seems like a staging convenience. The show works best from the end of act one, where simple events start being overtaken by visual images, initially a drughouse heaven transformed post-interval to addiction's slippery slope glimpsed through doorframes that are both gateways and barriers. In a strong cast Emma Rydal and Dan Rosewarne are excellent as Gemma and Tar, a Romeo and Juliet lost in a world of heroin who struggle back to life. Jane Buckler's clean, spare hour-long play on bereavement considers guilt and loss with swift-moving dramatic precision.
Babe, the Sheep-Pig Whirligig take David Wood's adaptation of Dick King-Smith's book to Edinburgh Festival Theatre February 12-14, Belfast Grand February 17-21, Norwich Theatre Royal February 23-25, Barnstaple Queen's March 3-7, Canterbury Marlowe March 10-14, Nottingham Theatre Royal March 24-28, Leeds Grand March 31-April 4, Bath Theatre Royal April 7-11, Northampton Derngate April 14-18, Blackpool Grand April 21-25, Newcastle-upon-Tyne New Tyne April 28-May 2, Oxford Playhouse May 5-9, Dartford Orchard May 12-16, Sheffield Lyceum May 19-23, Swansea Grand May 27-30.
David Wood's fluent staging of the well-known King-Smith novel is innocence to the experience of 'Junk', though it gently takes audiences through conflicts and moments of fear. The point that your get the best out of people (well, animals) by working sympathetically with them, not bossing them about, and that appearances shouldn't lead straight to judgment (a pig? Herding sheep?) emerge unobtrusively. Susie Caulcutt's sets offer rural idylls which Robert Ornbo's lighting overcasts at stormy moments in the story. Cute but not cutesy and well worth a trip to the country.
Le Moulin Magique Theatre sans Frontieres tour to March 21 with a Brittany folk tale in simple French for nine to 13-year-olds (details 01434 606787).
Under the Bed Theatre Centre and Cardiff Sherman revive Brendan Murray's story of the scary for four to six-year-olds Cardiff Sherman February 13-14, Bury St. Edmunds Theatre Royal February 17-18, Mansfield Palace February 20-21, Worcester Swan February 24-25, Gloucester Guildhall February 27-28, Taunton Brewhouse March 3-5, Bedford Corn Exchange March 13-14, Bracknell Wilde March 16-18, Hexham Queen's Hall March 19-21, Romiley Forum March 24-25, Camberley Artslink March 26-28.
Cuckoo Time Pop-Up with Michael Dalton play (see Birmingham) daytimes at Brentford Watermans February 14, Colchester Arts March 21, Bath Ustinov March 24-28, Barnet Bull April 5, King's Lynn Arts April 16, Gateshead Caedman April 17, Berwick-upon-Tweed Maltings April 18, Stirling MacRobert April 19, Darlington Arts April 22, Dorchester Arts May 4, Cambridge Drama Centre May 9.
The Selkie Bride Little Angel's Celtic myth and The Talkative Tortoise, both for 4s and over tour widely to June (Tortoise) and July (Bride). Details 0171 359 8581.
The Emperor's New Clothes Finland's Green AppleNorwich Puppet Theatre visit Gainsborough Trinity Arts February 7, Stamford Arts February 14, Norwich Puppet Theatre February 17-19, St Albans Maltings February 21, Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse Courtyard February 23-28.
George's Marvellous Medicine Norwich Puppet Theatre at Uxbridge Compass February 7, Frome Merlin February 17, Salisbury Arts February 18, Norwich Puppet Theatre February 20-21; March 21; May 16;23.
Other Norwich Puppet productions at home base are Paper Tiger April 6-9, Thumbelina April 4,8,11,15-17; May 27, Snow White May 26, Jack and the Beanstalk May 28-29.
Green Apple's 35-minute version of Anderson is told in unhurried concentration. The crowds who admire the Emperor's undress become government ministers (busts of Finnish political figures) and the fake tailors obvious money-grubbers. The boy who tells the truth is one-armed, a sign that truth is not necessarily fashioned as the ultimate in beauty. The piece demands concentration but repays it richly.