The local theater scene also provides a huge number of opportunities to be entertained without being bludgeoned by noise (especially if you avoid the big Broadway musicals). From the renowned (New Conservatory Theatre, American Conservatory Theater) to the avant-garde (Magic Theatre, The Marsh) to the downright fringe-y (The Exit Theater), there's something for everyone. A couple of suggestions: Check out Magic's "Hothouse '06"series, which begins in February and showcases three up-and-coming playwrights "America needs to know." If you're looking for something a bit lighter in tone, catch How We First Met (at the Purple Onion in February), a sort of play that features couples telling how they began dating, intermixed with actors improvising their stories. Metis interactive, feel-good theater at its best -- which is just about the perfect tonic for a pair of aching ears.