Shepherd's Bush Empire, London W12 (0181-740 7474)
At a time of year when Christmas puns drip from every press release and clog up the papers (see above), it's a relief to see the Royal
Exchange Theatre Company rise above the ghastly possibilities that lurk in the name of their latest production's author: Noel Coward. The most poised of English playwrights was loth to resort to such crudeness and Present Laughter - tackling the mid-life crisis of an egotistical actor - is no exception.
pounds 5-pounds 16, to 7 Feb. Royal Exchange Theatre, Albert Sq, Manchester M2 5HD (0161-833 9833)
I've no idea what it'll be like, but Macbeth the Panto Or Duncan Where's Your Troozers? sounds like it could move Birnam Wood to Dunsinane by sheer silliness. Oddsocks Theatre Company may be onto something though: how about "King Lear the Panto Or Mind Yer Peepers, Gloucester!" next year?
Queen's Hall Arts Centre, Beaumont St, Hexham (01434 607272)
Tonight and tomorrow night, join Olivier-winning singer Kim Criswell as she gets Leeds swinging with Opera North. I Got Rhythm is a night of classic Stateside songwriting, featuring the best from Cole Porter, Kurt Weill and George Gershwin.
pounds 7.50-pounds 27.50. Leeds Grand Theatre, Upper Briggate, Leeds LS1 6SZ (0113- 222 6222).