THEATRE: THE FIVE BEST PLAYS IN LONDON

1

Loot Vaudeville Theatre

Joe Orton's ruthless 966 black comedy is revived in David Grindley's highly entertaining production. The cast find exactly the right mix between the intricate farce and the mock-Wildean epigrams.

2

Oklahoma! Olivier Theatre

Trevor Nunn's exhilaratingly staged and choreographed answer to Guys and Dolls. The corn is as high as an elephant's eye and so is the stack of critical superlatives gathered so far.

3

Major Barbara Piccadilly Theatre

The opening of Peter Hall's accomplished production coincided with the arms to Sierra Leone brouhaha. Proof of the enduring topicality and dangerousness of Shaw's play.

4

The Real Inspector Hound/Black Comedy Comedy Theatre

Two one-acters from the Sixties. Both play mischievous tricks with theatrical convention; both deploy a cast of Cluedo card stereotypes.

5

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie National Theatre, Lyttelton

Phyllida Lloyd's innovative new adaptation of Murial Spark's classic novel provides the perfect platform for Fiona Shaw as the Edinburgh teacher

... AND BEYOND

Bartholomew Fair, Swan, Stratford

The most entertaining breach of the peace the RSC has served up in a long time. Lawrence Boswell's production lends a sleazy Notting Hill carnival-like atmosphere to Ben Jonson's panoramic comedy.

2

Roberto Zucco, The Other Place, Stratford

Based on the real-life story of a man who murdered his parents as a teenager, Bernard-Marie Koltes's play is given an outstanding production by James Macdonald.

3

Hamlet, Magdalen College, Oxford

Zoe Seaton's direction combines the open-air island with a torch- lit barge and novelties including a unicycle and a fireman's pole to intensify the excitement of Shakespeare's passionate tragedy.

4

Cabaret, Watermill, Newbury

"Willkommen and bienvenue" to the sleazy Kit Kat Klub of 930s Berlin. Josephine Baird as Sally Bowles seduce naive writer Clifford Bradshaw in the face of raging political intrigue. Ends tonight.

5

Copenhagen, Oxford Playhouse

Michael Frayn takes the issue of nuclear physics in the Second World War and uses it as the basis for some dizzying questions about the ambiguities of motivation. Very demanding, very rewarding. Transferred from the National Theatre, Cottesloe.

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