THEATRE: THE FIVE BEST PLAYS IN LONDON ... AND BEYOND

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The Independent Culture
1

Mnemonic (Riverside Studios)

An ice-preserved body - from 5,200 years ago - forms the central image of Theatre de Complicite's dazzlingly imaginative meditation on memory and morality. Timely and unforgettable. To 5 Jan

2

The Oresteia (Cottesloe)

Ted Hughes's troubled life gave him an especially piercing insight into this trilogy, and in this premiere Katie Mitchell's haunting production does his vision of the piece great justice. Booking to 29 Jan

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 26 Feb

4

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 8 Jan

5

Peggy For You (Hampstead Theatre)

Alan Plater's very witty play about legendary theatrical agent Peggy Ramsay. Great one-liners and much food for thought about drama and dramatists. To 5 Jan

Macbeth (Swan Theatre, Stratford)

Greg Doran's is the best production of this notoriously difficult tragedy since the classic Trevor Nunn version. Harriet Walter is marvellously complex and achingly sad as Lady M. To 8 Mar

2

Sinbad (Watermill, Newbury)

In the most delightful of country theatres, this is the most delightful of family musicals, presented by a charming, funny company of actor-musicians. Sends panto conventions up without a trace of cynicism. To 5 Jan

3

Singin' in the Rain (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds)

This glorious MGM musical takes to the stage in Jude Kelly's production, which is choreographed by rising star Stephen Mear. To 5 Feb

4

Nativity (Birmingham Rep)

Top playwright Peter Whelan (The Herbal Bed, Divine Right) gives us his distinctive take on the traditional Christmas story, in this Bill Alexander production. To 30 Dec

5

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford)

Revival of the RSC's hit family show of last year. Adrian Mitchell adapts and Adrian Noble directs CS Lewis's magical story of Narnia, talking animals and a lion called Aslan. To 8 Mar

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