Theatre: The Five Best Plays In London

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The Independent Culture
1

The Real Thing Donmar Warehouse

Tom Stoppard's witty, thoughtful disquisition on love looks even better now than it did in 982. To 7 Aug

2

Hay Fever Savoy Theatre

Collectors of scandalously enjoyable camp should rush to see Geraldine McEwan, who is sublime as the not-so-retired actress heroine in Declan Donnellan's wittily over-the-top Coward revival. To 4 Aug

3

Candide Olivier Theatre, National

Exhilarating staging by John Caird of the wittiest and trickiest of all possible musicals. Alex Kelly is a delectably funny Cunegonde, and Simon Russell Beale turns in a trenchant tour de force doubling as Pangloss and Voltaire. Booking to Oct

4

Three Sisters Whitehall Theatre

Remarkably fresh (if unevenly cast) production by Dominic Dromgoole with a deeply touching performance from Tom Smith as the unloved Baron Tuzenbakh. To 3 July

5

Holy Mothers Ambassadors Theatre

Blocked lavatories, visions of the Blessed Virgin and a last-minute beheading all feature in this hilarious extravaganza of epic bad taste by Werner Schwab. To 3 July

... AND BEYOND

Enjoy West Yorkshire PLayhouse, Leeds

Thelma Barlow's wonderfully sunny and touching performance underlines how close Alan Bennett's characters often come to those of Beckett. A first-rate revival of his prescient, blackly hilarious 980 play about the humbug of the heritage industry. From Mon to Sat 26 June

2

Tales from Ovid Swan Theatre, Stratford

Ted Hughes's brilliant adaptation of the Metamorphoses gets the Tim Supple treatment, vividly demonstrating the inherent theatricality of these myths. To 7 Oct

3

Oroonoko The Other Place, Stratford

There's political indignation but a refreshing lack of political correctness in Biyi Bandele's powerful and witty dramatisation of the novel by the 7th-century writer Aphra Behn, which takes a humane look at the slave trade. To 6 Oct

4

Volpone Swan Theatre, Stratford

Comedies don't come funnier or more astringent than Ben Jonson's brilliant dissection of avaricious, over-reaching egotism. To 9 Oct

5

Don Juan Playhouse, Oxford

Stephen Unwin and English Touring Theatre tackle Moliere's mordant take on the libertine from hell. From Tue to Sat 26 Jun

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