The Independent Recommends: The Five Best Plays

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The Independent Culture
Summerfolk (Olivier, National Theatre, London)

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

Spend, Spend, Spend (Piccadilly Theatre, London)

This utterly irresistible new musical captures the tough, impudent survivor spirit of Viv Nicholson, the woman who won and blew a Pools fortune. To 29 Jan

Comic Potential (Lyric Theatre, London)

In Alan Ayckbourn's futuristic twist to the Pygmalion myth, Janie Dee gives a funny and touching performance as an android caught between circuitry and humanity. To 8 Apr

Larkin with Women (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough)

Ben Brown's well-crafted, funny-sad play about the love life of poet Philip Larkin. To 4 Dec

Masquerade (Gardner Arts Centre, Falmer, East Sussex)

The Small Theatre of Vilnius brings visual beauty, slapstick and poignancy to this darkly enchanting production of Lermontov's tragedy. 23-27 Nov