The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Plays

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The Merchant of Venice (Cottesloe, National Theatre, London)

Trevor Nunn's 1920s-style production finds a rich complexity in a play too often simplified. In rep to 11 Sept

Look Back in Anger (Lyttelton, National Theatre, London)

Five tremendous performances make this revival of Osborne's iconic play (right) completely riveting. In rep to 11 Sept

Drummers (New Ambassadors, London)

Caustic black comedy about jailbirds from a new playwright, Simon Bennett, who, having been inside for burglary, knows what he's talking about. To 9 Oct

Timon of Athens (RSC, Stratford)

Michael Pennington is outstanding as a violent but psychologically subtle Timon, in a remarkably witty and penetrating production of this Shakespeare rarity. In rep to 9 Oct

Don Carlos (The Other Place, Stratford)

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

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