THEATRE: THE FIVE BEST PLAYS IN LONDON

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The Independent Culture
1

The Weir, Royal Court, Duke of York's

Ghost stories recounted in a rural Irish bar give way to genuine horror in Conor McPherson's humane masterpiece, beautifully directed by Ian Rickson.

2

Copenhagen, Cottesloe

Profound and fascinating Michael Frayn play about science, morality and the mysteries of human motivation.

3

Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Cottesloe

Tim Supple's joyously inventive staging of Salman Rushdie's fatwa- influenced fable.

4

Real Classy Affair, Royal Court at the Ambassadors

Achingly hip cast deliver the goods in Nick Grosso's latest sharp- suited comic take on north-London lad culture.

5

Phedre, Albery

Diana Rigg and Jonathan Kent continue their formidable partnership in this powerful new Ted Hughes version of Racine's incomparable tragedy.

... AND BEYOND

Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, West Yorkshire Playhouse

Tony Harrison's theatrically ebullient and learned attack on the division between high and low art, told through the fate of a chorus of well-hung satyrs.

2

Top Girls, Salisbury Playhouse

Caryl Churchill's superb anatomy of the social assumptions surrounding powerful women. Revived by the talented Jonathan Church.

3

Richard III, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford

The charismatic Robert Lindsay gets the hump in this new Elijah Moshinsky production, which will go on tour after its Stratford opening.

4

Richard III, Leicester Haymarket

A memorable and unusual Hamlet for Oxford, the diminutive Ian Pepperill now brings his distinctive stage presence to this Paul Kerryson production.

5

Cooking with Elvis, Whitley Bay Playhouse

Inventively bad taste comedy by Lee ("Spoonface Steinberg") Hall focuses on the wife and daughter of an amateur Elvis impersonator who has been left paralysed by a car crash.

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