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Timothy Barber
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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
In a terrific season for family shows, Katie Mitchell’s Beauty and the Beast, in the National’s cosy Cottesloe Theatre, is one of the standouts. Shadow puppets, eerie costumes, mysterious sound effects and Lucy Kirkwood’s lyrical writing create a magical world of faries and wonder – and look out for a a bizarre “brain-milking” machine. Mark Arends and Sian Clifford are the titular lovers. Until 5 Jan. Tickets from £10 from
www.nationaltheatre.co.uk

DEREK JACOBI AS KING LEAR
You can map out the career of a great actor as they run through the major Shakespearian roles, with Lear the late-career crowning glory. Derek Jacobi, arguably our leading living interpreter of the Bard, has finally made his way to the blasted heath at the Donmar Theatre, under Michael Grandage’s direction, in a performance some critics are describing as the finest Lear in a generation. Until 5 Feb. Tickets from £15 from www.donmarwarehouse.com

NORMAN ROCKWELL RETROSPECTIVE
American painter Norman Rockwell was best known for his depictions of everyday life which appeared on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. He may be dismissed by many as a mawkish, sentimental illustrator rather than a serious artist, but there’s no doubting Rockwell’s extraordinary facility with paint, and the Dulwich Picture Gallery’s retrospective is a rare and intriguing look at a career stretching from 1916 to 1963. Until 27 Mar, www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk