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The Independent Culture
Summerfolk (Olivier, National)

A sublime vindication of the National's ensemble policy, as a seasoned company of 20-odd actors bring Gorky's anxious turn-of- the-century Russians to richly complex life. To 11 Nov

Life Is a Dream (Barbican)

An austerely brilliant production of Calderon's superb Golden Age play in which lines between dream and reality, social conditioning and genetic inevitability are disturbingly blurred. In rep to 2 Oct

Drummers (New Ambassadors)

Mark Rylance is a beguilingly persuasive Cleopatra - ironically much less of a drag act than Frances de la Tour in the current Stratford production.

Ends tomorrow

A Saint She Ain't (Apollo, Shaftesbury Ave)

Riotously funny pastiche of 1940s Hollywood musicals with book and lyrics by Dick Vosburgh and score by Denis King. Bliss, and not just for buffs. Booking to 29 Jan

The Triumph of Love (Almeida)

Marivaux's tart comedy of serial seduction. Linda Bassett and Colin Stinton are hilarious as a repressed couple tricked into emotional abandon. Ends tonight


Timon of Athens (RSC, Stratford Upon Avon)

Michael Pennington shines as a violent but psychologically subtle Timon, in this remarkably witty and penetrating production. The splendid use of a Duke Ellington jazz suite rounds it off. In rep to 9 Oct

The Colour of Justice (Nottingham Playhouse)

Meticulous and dramatically devastating reconstruction of the key moments from the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. From Wed

Don Carlos (RSC, Stratford Upon Avon)

Exuding a dishevelled glamour, Rupert Penry Jones gives a stellar performance in Gale Edwards' intensely claustrophobic production of Schiller's play. Memorable and chilling. In rep to 7 Oct

Easy Virtue (Chicester Festival Theatre)

Greta Scacchi scintillates as the "woman with a past" in Maria Aitken's revival of this Coward play, which deals with issues of prejudice and sanctimony. To 2 Oct

Oroonoko (The Other Place, Stratford)

There's indignation, but a refreshing lack of political correctness, in this powerful, witty dramatisation of Aphra Behn's novel about the slave trade. In rep to 6 Oct