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 finds a rich complexity in a play too often simplified on the stage. In rep to 11 Sept

Look Back in Anger (Lyttelton, National, London)

Five tremendously alert performances make this revival of Osborne's iconic play completely riveting. In rep to 11 Sept

Antony and Cleopatra (Globe Theatre, London)

Mark Rylance is a beguilingly persuasive Cleopatra - ironically much less of a drag act than Frances de la Tour in the current Stratford production. In rep to 26 Sept

The Family Reunion (Swan Theatre, Stratford)

A masterclass in electrically incisive verse-speaking (right) from Greg Hicks in a skilful revival of this rarely performed TS Eliot play. To 7 Oct

Easy Virtue (Chichester Festival Theatre)

Greta Scacchi scintillates as the glamorous "woman with a past" in Maria Aitken's assured revival of this early Coward play. To 2 Oct