Playing the joker

Choice: Three to see over Christmas

Yuletide being the season of goodwill, it's the time when the age-old rivalry between the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company is sublimated in their jolly annual quiz. This is a tradition now in its 12th year, and was invented by the redoubtable critic Sheridan Morley, who wrote a Christmas theatre quiz-book, and then chaired the first event himself. For the past few years it's been Ned Sherrin penning the teasers, which test knowledge of theatrical history, texts, topical events, props and sound effects from recent productions, and - of course - sex. This year's line-ups include Simon Callow (left) and captain John Mortimer (right) for the RSC; Simon Russell Beale and Issy van Randwyck for the National. The festive audience is packed every year with amateur experts in the field, and people who just like a good laugh. One year, Brian Cox was on the RSC team, and plain forgot to turn up: he was tootling over Waterloo Bridge with some American friends and said: "And that's the National Theatre... where I should currently be." In the event, Ned Sherrin got a man in the crowd to join the RSC team, who went on to win. Each year, proceedings are enlivened by the activities of a celebrity scorer such as Nigel Planer or Jane Horrocks - this year, it's all-round star Janie Dee who'll be totting up the thespian totals. And the prize for the victorious team? None other than yer actual wooden crutch used by Antony Sher in his famous Richard III. Now there's something to play for.

Lyttleton Theatre, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 (0171-928 2252), 6pm Wed 27 Dec; pounds 3.50/pounds 2.50 concs

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