Theatre: The five best plays in London

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The Independent Culture
1

The Invention of Love Theatre Royal, Haymarket

Tom Stoppard's witty, heartbreaking fantasia on the twin passions of AE Housman: scholarship and an unavailable heterosexual friend.

2

Love Upon the Throne National Theatre of Brent

The Charles and Diana story (well, up to the divorce) presented by the NTB (all two of them). Very funny and oddly touching.

3

Kafka's Dick Piccadilly Theatre

Spiriting Kafka to suburban England, Alan Bennett's hilarious romp survives some peculiar casting in Peter Hall's revival.

4

Phedre/Britannicus Albery

A powerful pairing of two Racine tragedies: Diana Rigg and Toby Stephens are excellent as the mother and son in both.

5

Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs Hampstead Theatre

Denis Lawson's superbly amusing cast are in no way eclipsed by screen heartthrob Ewan McGregor, who brings complexity to the central role.

... AND BEYOND

Twelfth Night Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Perfectly thought-through production by Michael Grandage evokes an Illyria where storms rage as much within as without.

2

Richard III RSC, Cardiff New Theatre

Charismatic Robert Lindsay limps rings round the other characters in Elijah Moshinsky's gripping production.

3

The Seagull West Yorkshire Playhouse

Jude Kelly's new company, headed by Ian McKellen and Claire Higgins, kicks off with this Chekhov classic in a tempting season which will include The Tempest.

4

Our Country's Good Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

Max Stafford-Clark's inspiring revival of the Timberlake Wertenbaker classic about a penal colony and the power of theatre.

5

The Norman Conquests Theatr Clwyd

Alan Ayckbourn's masterly, immensely elaborate comic trilogy is revived by Terry Hands.

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