The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Plays

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Summerfolk (Olivier, National Theatre, London)

A seasoned company of 20-odd actors bring Gorky's anxious turn-of-the- century Russians to richly complex life. To 11 Nov

The Triumph of Love (Almeida, London)

Marivaux's tart comedy of serial seduction. Linda Bassett and Colin Stinton are hilarious as a repressed couple tricked into emotional abandon. To 25 Sept

Drummers (New Ambassadors, London)

Caustic black comedy (right) about vengeful jailbirds from a new playwright, Simon Bennett who, having once served a sentence for burglary, knows what he's talking about. To 9 Oct

Timon of Athens (RSC, Stratford Upon Avon)

Michael Pennington shines as a violent but psychologically subtle Timon, in this remarkably witty and penetrating production. In rep to 9 Oct

Irma La Douce (Watermill Theatre, Newbury)

With this intimate theatre converted into a Parisian cafe, there's a cabaret atmosphere to John Doyle's rousing revival of this Fifties musical. To 25 Sept

David Benedict and Paul Taylor