Theatre: THE FIVE BEST PLAYS IN LONDON

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1

Antigone (Old Vic)

Sophocles' great tragedy gets a superbly trenchant and objective staging from Declan Donnellan and a performance of enormous complexity from Jonathan Hyde. To 5 Jan 2000

2

Marathon (Gate Theatre)

Edoardo Erba's very funny play, about two young men in training for the New York marathon, resonates powerfully on both the realistic and metaphoric levels. A beautifully judged production by Mick Gordon. To Dec

3

Spend, Spend, Spend (Piccadilly Theatre)

This utterly irresistible new musical captures the tough, impudent survivor spirit of Viv Nicholson, the Yorkshire housewife who won - and blew - a Pools fortune. To 29 Jan 2000

4

Comic Potential (Lyric Theatre)

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 2000

5

2 Pianos, 4 Hands (Comedy Theatre)

The ivory-tickling duo here are like a cross between the Labeque Sisters and a gentler version of Reeves and Mortimer. A damn fine way to treat two Steinways. To 2 Apr 2000

... AND BEYOND

Macbeth (Swan Theate, Stratford)

Greg Doran's is the best production of this notoriously difficult tragedy since the classic Trevor Nunn version. Harriett Walter is marvellously complex and achingly sad as Lady M. See review, right. To Jan 2000

2

Masquerade (Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton)

The Small Theatre of Vilnius brings visual beauty, elegant slapstick and poignancy to this darkly enchanting production of Lermontov's tragedy of jealousy. Ends tonight

3

Larkin With Women (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough)

Ben Brown's well-crafted, funny-sad play about the love life of the great poet has telling points to make on the ironies of selfishness, creative solitude and loneliness. To 4 Dec

4

Starring the excellent Patrick O'Kane, Jude Kelly's exhaustively rethought interpretation features some bizarre water sculpture. This comes in particularly handy for the hand-washing scene. To 4 Dec

Macbeth (West Yorkshire Playhouse)

5

Hamlet (Bristol Old Vic)

Colin Tierney's craggy, passionate wit as a performer makes for a powerful Hamlet in Gemma Bodinetz's flawed, but gripping new production. Ends tonight

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