The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Plays

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The Merchant of Venice (Cottesloe, National, London)

With the magnificent Henry Goodman as Shylock, Trevor Nunn's 1920s-style production (right) finds a rich complexity in a play too often simplified on the stage. In rep to 11 Sept

Floyd Collins (Bridewell Theatre, London)

Floyd Collins represents a giant leap forward for musical theatre. The slightly dodgy production has knock-out performances from Nigel Richards and Craig Purnell. To 31 Jul

Look Back in Anger (Lyttelton, National, London)

Five tremendously alert performances make this revival of Osborne's iconic play completely riveting. A production of enormous subtlety and power. In rep to 11 Sept

The Family Reunion (Swan Theatre, Stratford)

A masterclass in electrically incisive verse-speaking from Greg Hicks, who gives utter credibility to the Furies-haunted Harry in Adrian Noble's skilful revival of this rarely performed TS Eliot play. In rep to 7 Oct

Noises Off (Theatre Royal, York)

The second act, set backstage during a performance of a tired sex farce, is one of the funniest things ever written. The other two acts aren't half bad, either. To 31 Jul