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 tremendous performances make this revival of Osborne's iconic play utterly riveting. In rep to 11 Sept

Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell (Old Vic, London)

Peter O'Toole re-creates his incomparably funny, melancholic portrait of the legendary boozer. To 25 Sept

Antony and Cleopatra (Globe Theatre, London)

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

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Regent's Park, London)

Winning larks in the park with Ian Talbot's revival of Sondheim's Roman- scandals musical. To 31 Aug