THEATRE / Previews & First Nights

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THE GIFT OF THE GORGON

Judi Dench and Michael Pennington give luminous, unmissable performances in the RSC production of Peter Shaffer's fascinating, ambitious play. Wyndhams, WC2 (081-867 1116). Previews; opens 23 March.

(SMALL) OBJECTS OF DESIRE

A showcase for six new writers, Kay Adshead, Bonnie Greer, Paul Goetzee, Stewart Harcourt, Anna Wheatley, Victoria Worsley. Cockpit Theatre (071-402- 5081). Opens 17 March.

PRESENT LAUGHTER

Tom Conti in Noel Coward souffle comedy. Liverpool Playhouse (051-709 8363). Open 18 March.

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW

Joe Orton's farce, set in a psychoanalyst's clinic. Who is sane, who is crazy? Citizens, Glasgow (041-4295561). Previews 25 March; opens 26 March.

GLASSPARTS

Mime artist David Glass in a double-bill, Glasseye and Pierrot in Love. BAC Studio, SW11 (071-223 2223). Opens 23 March.

PIRATES]

The Performance Theatre Company's 'ho-ho m'hearties' show. Warehouse, Croydon (081-680 4060). Open 17 March.

MACBETH

Jonathan Holloway's production cuts out the witches and is performed by a cast of five. BAC, SW11 (071-223 2223). Preview 23 March; opens 24 March.

ON APPROVAL

Paula Wilcox and Jeremy Sinden in Frederick Lonsdale's comedy. Palace, Watford (0923-225 671). Opens tonight.

THE DEEP BLUE SEA

Karel Reisz's triumphant production of Terence Rattigan's compelling, tragic play about obsessive desire. Penelope Wilton plays the suicidal clergyman's daughter. Apollo, W1 (071-494 5070). Previews; opens 22 March.

BLOOD WEDDING

Odyssey's flamenco production of Lorca's superb verse play. Lyric, Hammersmith, W6 (081-741 2311). Opens 24 March.

LETTERS HOME

Hildegard Neil and Daryl Black in Rose Leiman Goldemberg's adaptation of Sylvia Plath's moving correspondence with her mother. 22 March. Lyric, Hammersmith, W6 (081-741 2311).

QUARTERMAINE'S TERMS

Edward Fox, Peter Barkworth and Sarah Bedel in Kevin Billington's production of Simon Gray's play set in a Cambridge language school. Richmond Theatre, Surrey (081-940 0220). Opens 22 March.

RICHARD III

Simon Russell Beale returns to the role that put him flat on his back for a month. Swan, Stratford (0789 295 623). Previews; opens 25 March.

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