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.
Shh. The search for a lower-decibel evening out can include stops at these and other local venues:
Adobe Books, 3166 16th St. (at Valencia), 864-3936, www.adobebooks.org.
Argus Lounge, 3187 Mission (at Valencia), 824-1447, www.arguslounge.com.
Youth Speaks: "Final Fridays," last Fridays at Galeria de la Raza, 2857 24th St. (at Bryant), 826-8009.
"Spoken City," second Tuesdays at Cafe Royale, 800 Post (at Leavenworth), 441-4099.
Tenth Annual Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam, Feb. 10-March 18, various venues, www.youthspeaks.org.
"Tourettes Without Regrets," first Thursdays at the Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway (at Second Street), Oakland, (510) 763-1146, www.oaklandmetro.org.
"Writers With Drinks," second Saturdays at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), 647-2888, www.writerswithdrinks.com.
"Porchlight," second Mondays at Café Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), 861-5016, www.porchlightsf.com.
"Fusion City," second Mondays at the Edinburgh Castle, 950 Geary (at Polk), 885-4074, www.castlenews.com.
City Arts & Lectures, 392-4400, www.cityarts.net.
Killing My Lobster Takes a Cruise, Feb. 23-March 5, Brava Theater, 2781 24th St. (at Potrero), 641-7657, www.killingmylobster.com.
"Club Chuckles" at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), 923-0923, www.hemlocktavern.com.
"Hothouse '06," Feb. 11-April 9 at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Third Floor, 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org.
New Conservatory Theatre, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.
American Conservatory Theater, 405 Geary (at Mason), 749-2ACT, www.act-sfbay.org.
The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org.