THE FIVE BEST PLAYS IN LONDON

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The Independent Culture
Copenhagen, Cottesloe

Michael Frayn takes the issue of nuclear physics in the Second World War and uses it as the basis for some dizzying questions about the ambiguities of motivation. Very demanding; very rewarding.

The Real Inspector Hound/Black Comedy, Comedy Theatre

Two one-acters from the 60s. Both play mischievous tricks with theatrical convention; both deploy a cast of Cluedo card stereotypes.

Oklahoma!, Olivier Theatre

Trevor Nunn's exhilaratingly staged and choreographed answer to Guys and Dolls. The corn is as high as an elephant's eye and so is the stack of critical superlatives gathered so far.

Major Barbara, Piccadilly Theatre

The opening of Peter Hall's accomplished production coincided with the arms to Sierra Leone brouhaha. Proof of the enduring topicality and dangerousness of Shaw's play.

The Old Neighbourhood, Royal Court Theatre Downstairs at the Duke of York's

Last chance tonight to see this tough-talking yet surprisingly poignant triptych of David Mamet plays. Patrick Marber directs.

... AND BEYOND

Bartholomew Fair, Swan, Stratford

The most entertaining breach of the peace the RSC has served up in a long time. Laurence Boswell's production lends a sleazy Notting Hill carnival-like atmosphere to Ben Jonson's panoramic comedy.

Roberto Zucco, The Other Place, Stratford

Based on the real-life story of a man who murdered his parents as a teenager, Bernard-Marie Koltes's play is given an outstanding production by James Macdonald.

Chimes at Midnight, Chichester Festival Theatre

Patrick Garland's production of Orson Welles's highly personal adaptation of Shakespeare's history plays. Opens Tuesday.

The Doctor's Dilemma, Malvern Theatres

Ian McDiarmid, an actor often called on to go operatically over the top, gives one of his most relaxed and natural performances as the surgeon Colenso Ridgeon in this fine Almeida production.

Phedre, Malvern Festival Theatre

Diana Rigg and director Jonathan Kent team up for this world premiere of Ted Hughes's new version of the great Racine tragedy. Opens in London in September.

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