The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Plays

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Summerfolk (Olivier, National Theatre, London)

A seasoned company of 20-odd actors (right) brings Gorky's anxious, turn-of-the-century Russians to richly complex life. In rep to 23 Nov

Spend, Spend, Spend (Piccadilly Theatre, London)

This irresistible new musical captures the survivor spirit of Viv Nicholson, the Yorkshire housewife who won, and blew, a Pools fortune. To 29 Jan

The Taming of the Shrew (The Pit, Barbican, London)

The excellent casting of Stuart McQuarrie and Monica Dolan gives oddball modernity to Lindsay Posner's youthful, astringent production. In rep to 20 Nov

The John Wayne Principle (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton)

The dialogue is as vivid and pungent as a safari around the gussets of Sir Les Patterson in this very funny Aussie comedy about global business. To 20 Nov

Macbeth (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds)

Jude Kelly's exhaustively rethought interpretation features some bizarre water sculpture, particularly useful for the hand-washing scene. In rep to 4 Dec