THE FIVE BEST PLAYS IN LONDON

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The Independent Culture
Loot, Vaudeville Theatre

Joe Orton's farce involving a coffin, a corpse, stolen money and a bent copper takes a spirited lick in David Grindley's entertaining revival. Tracy-Ann Oberman plays the homicidal nurse.

Oklahoma!, Olivier

The Nunn era notches up its answer to Guys and Dolls with this exhilaratingly staged show. The corn is as high as an elephant's eye and so was the stack of critical superlatives.

Major Barbara, Piccadilly Theatre

The opening of Peter Hall's accomplished production coincided with the arms-to-Sierra Leone brouhaha. This polemical play is about a Salvation Army girl and her arms-dealer father.

A Mad World, My Masters, Shakespeare's Globe

Middleton's Jacobean satire on sex and money is given a raucous treatment in Sue Lefton's enjoyable revival in the Wooden O of the Globe.

The Real Inspector Hound & Black Comedy, Comedy Theatre

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

... AND BEYOND

Love Upon The Throne, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh (0131-642 2442)

The Charles and Di story (well, up to the divorce) as performed by two rivalrous men in suits. Patrick Barlow and John Ramm are funny and touching.

Mr Puntila and His Man, Matti, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (0131- 228 1404)

Kathryn Hunter's account of the Brecht play about a landowner - who is a visionary darling when drunk and demon when sober - is entertaining.

As You Like It/Antony and Cleopatra, Salisbury Playhouse (01722 32033)

An intriguing pairing about love at different ages, using the same cast of 14 actors, headed by Cathy Tyson and Tim Woodward. Opens 8 September.

Bartholomew Fair, Swan, Stratford

(01789 295623)

The RSC's most brilliant breach of the peace in a long time. Laurence Boswell's production lends a sleazy atmosphere to Ben Jonson's comedy.

Roberto Zucco, The Other Place, Stratford (01789 295623)

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

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