Missing Persons/Believe What You Will, Trafalgar Studios, London

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The Independent Culture

The best of the bunch is The Last Word, in which the actor is quietly devastating as a post-feminist male Medea, a creepily despairing, lone Father For Justice who takes revenge on his faithless spouse to self-defeating extremes.

The One Within finds present-day echoes of Sophocles' Ajax in the madness of an Irish Republican warrior who can't cope with the new realities. In The Roykeaneiad, the comic piece that rounds off the evening, Hicks appears as a drunken Irish football fan who likens Roy Keane's huffy World Cup walk-out to Achilles' sulks in his tent in The Iliad. This last drama sums up the problems of the project. The parallels feel very forced coming from an ordinary Joe. Instead of performing a provocative balancing act between the modern and the mythic, these pieces tend to fall between two stools.

A word of welcome for Josie Rourke's persuasive production of Believe What You Will, the controversial 1631 play by Philip Massinger that has just transferred from Stratford. Dazzling as the title character in Ben Jonson's Sejanus, William Houston continues to chew the scenery with relish in his portrayal of another over-reaching fanatic.

Flaminius is the Roman ambassador who uses threats, torture and sanctions against any state that is minded to offer sanctuary to Antiochus, the charismatic Middle Eastern ruler recently emerged from two decades of hiding. In the play's dissection of the imperialistic, might-is-right mentality, the original audiences would have seen a coded criticism of Spain. For Rome, now read the United States.

'Missing Persons' to 25 February; 'Believe' to 11 February (0870 060 6632)

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