The Year in Review: Best theatre of 2010

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The Independent Culture

Clybourne Park, Royal Court Theatre

A past master at the comedy of discomfiture, US dramatist Bruce Norris delights in undermining liberal complacencies, as he proved once again in this outrageously funny, artfully structured and squirm-inducing play about race and the taboos that govern how we talk about it.

Measure for Measure, Almeida Theatre

Excellent this year as Hamlet, Rory Kinnear also showed terrific originality in Michael Attenborough's remarkably fresh modern-dress Measure for Measure. His nerdy Angelo was almost Ayckbournesque as the comic then chilling epitome of soulless middle-management.

The White Guard National Theatre

Howard Davies directed this masterly revival of Bulgakov's brilliant, epic tragicomedy about a group of Tsarist sympathisers in Kiev during the violent upheavals of 1918-1919. The sense of moral chaos and the clashes of mood were conveyed with stunning immediacy and clarity of focus.

Legally Blonde , Savoy Theatre

Like its pink-clad heroine Elle, who is not the airhead she's taken for, this enjoyable musical confounds cultural snobs with the spry intelligence of its mischievous humour and stylistic in-jokes. Sheridan Smith is winning in the central role.

Spur of the Moment, Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court

Anya Reiss was only 17 when she wrote this play about a girl of 12 who falls for her dysfunctional family's 21-year-old lodger. A hilarious, horrifying lowdown on middle-aged marital discord and the hormonal excitability of 'tweens, it's a seriously auspicious debut.