Theatre: The five best plays in London

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The Independent Culture
1

Mr Puntila and His Man Matti Albery Theatre

A well-deserved transfer for this Almeida hit. Comedy duo The Right Size are inspired casting for Brecht's witty fable about a split- personality landowner. See review, right

2

Love Upon the Throne

Comedy Theatre

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

3

Copenhagen Cottesloe

Michael Frayn's profound and haunting meditation on science, morality and the mysteries of human motivation.

4

Angela Carter Cinderella Lyric, Hammersmith

The finest mice on the West End stage and heaps more besides.

5

Arabian Nights Young Vic

Another rich Young Vic Christmas feast attaches jump-leads to the avid audience's imagination.

... AND BEYOND

Martin Guerre RSC, Cardiff New Theatre

It's third time lucky for this much rewritten Boublil/Schonberg musical. In Conall Morrison's starkly involving production, it finally emerges as a tighter, magnificent show.

2

Hindle Wakes Royal Exchange, Manchester

Spectacularly refurbished after the 996 bombing, this theatre bounces back in fine resilient form with the excellent production that had to be aborted first time round.

3

The Boy Who Fell Into a Book Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Typically witty and ingenious concept from Alan Ayckbourn, here wearing his children's dramatist hat.

4

Present Laughter West Yorkshire Playhouse

Ian McKellen dons the Noel Coward dressing gown and gives a scintillating high-energy performance in this enjoyable but unevenly cast production. See review, right

5

A Month in the Country Swan Theatre, Stratford

A conjunction of two great artists and cultures. Ireland's finest living dramatist, Brian Friel, adapts Turgenev's proto-Chekhovian comedy.

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