Theatre: The Five Best plays in London and beyond

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The Independent Culture

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.


Copenhagen, Cottesloe

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


Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Cottesloe

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


School for Scandal, Barbican Theatre

Declan Donnellan places Sheridan's bitchfest in a raffish, royal and theatrically telling frame. Emma Fielding is perfection as an Irish Lady teasel.


Real Classy Affair Regional

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


The Inventor of Love, West Yorkshire Playhouse

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


Top Girls, Salisbury Playhouse

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


Richard III, Royal Shakeseare Theatre, Stratford

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


The Black Dahlia, Northcott Theatre, Exeter

A James Ellroy novel became LA Confidential. Now it's back to tarnished Tinseltown for his Black Dahlia, rethought as theatre by Mike Alfreds.


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.