Choice: Theatre

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Major Barbara, Piccadilly Theatre (0171-369 1734)

Although written 90 years ago, Major Barbara addresses two subjects that have yet to become obsolete - poverty and the arms trade - and Peter Hall's highly accomplished production shows Bernard Shaw at his most alarmingly prescient. The playwright spells out how the manufacture of instruments of death sustains livelihoods and provocatively suggests that a society that feeds its citizens on the profits of slaughter is preferable to one that lets them starve in the name of moral improvement. The argument is dramatised as a family dispute between millionaire cannon-maker Andrew Undershaft, and his daughter Barbara, a major in the Salvation Army (polished Peter Bowles (above) and Jemma Redgrave). For the first half, it's the quickfire script that keeps you watching more than anything, but as the play progresses, the cast's involvement in the twists and turns of the moral debate is electrifying, even - and this is unusual in the West End - thought-provoking.

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