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The Independent Culture
The Japanese have an habit of citing individuals as living national treasures. If we did that too, my first list of candidates would include Sheila Hancock (right). She has cavorted and cajoled her way through everything from sitcoms to Sondheim via a terrifying performance in A Judgement in Stone, so it's no surprise to discover that she's now making her Almeida debut in what promises to be a riotous production of Gorky's Vassa directed by Howard Davies. Davies is busying filling his mantelpiece with awards for The Iceman Cometh.

Almeida, London N1 (0171-359 4404) from 14 Jan

David Benedict