THE FIVE BEST PLAYS

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The Independent Culture
Ta Main dans la Mienne

(Barbican, London)

Peter Brook directs this beautiful evocation of the relationship between Chekhov and his actress wife, Olga Knipper. (0845 120 7550) to 12 Feb

Don Carlos

(Gielgud Theatre, London)

Friedrich Schiller's epic, maze-like romantic tragedy, with Derek Jacobi relishing his role as Philip II of Spain. (0870 890 1105) to 30 Apr

Festen

(Lyric Theatre, London)

Splendid production, by Rufus Norris, of the Dogme drama about an ill-fated family celebration. Paul Nicholls stars. (0870 890 1107) to 9 Apr

ZThe History Boys

(NT: Lyttelton, London)

Entertaining and acutely wise work by Alan Bennett, set in a grammar school during the mid-1980s. (020-7452 3000) to 26 Apr

Rutherford and Son

(Royal Exchange, Manchester)

Revival of Githa Soweby's fine play exploring the tensions between the generations from a valuably female perspective. (0161-833 9833) to 19 Feb

AND ONE TO AVOID...

Saturday Night Fever (Apollo Victoria, London)

The routines are sub-Saturday-night TV - it's as feverish as the dance floor at your granddad's wedding reception.

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