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 (above) 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's incomparably funny, melancholic portrait of the legendary boozer. To 25 Sept

A Warwickshire Testimony (The Other Place, Stratford)

Funny, compassionate piece on feelings about community. Based on interviews with local groups, these "living memories" span the century. To 23 Sept

Drummers (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh)

Caustic black comedy about house breakers and vengeful jail birds from a new playwright, Simon Bennett, who, having once served a sentence for burglary, knows what he's talking about. To 29 Aug