Bryony Lavery's startling portrait of "this sceptr'd isle" in Annie Castledine's compelling production teems with life, thanks to a stunning set of unselfserving performances by Nichola McAuliffe. She plays everyone from a teenage joyrider and a quietly proud Indian woman, to a Pakistani shopkeeper and several policemen and women.

The Bush Theatre, London W12 (0181-743 3388)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

A magnificent outdoor setting for Ian Forrest's splendidly inventive staging of Lewis Carroll's surreal story of the incredible shrinking heroine who encounters dangerous drinks, cats, cards and caterpillars.

Williamson Park, Lancaster (01524-66645)

Side By Side by Sondheim

Liza Sadovy and Kathryn Evans have a ball with Sondheim's greatest hits (Volume One). Matthew Francis's inventive direction ensures that you will, too.

Greenwich Theatre, London (0181-858 7755)

The Wood Demon

Love, lust and laziness whipped up into high farce in Anthony Clark's marvellously acted production of early Chekhov. More like Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy than Uncle Vanya, the play it later became. Completely charming.

The Playhouse, London WC2 (0171-839 4401)

Kiss Me Kate

Brush up your Shakespeare with Cole Porter's tremendous backstage musical comedy about a touring company in The Taming of The Shrew. Louise Gold knocks 'em dead.

In rep, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (0171-486 2431)


Imagine a cross between Glengarry Glen Ross and The Birthday Party and you're close to Simon Block's uncomfortably funny play. After an implausible start, the noose tightens to a terrific finish. All the cast are excellent, especially Nicholas Woodeson, who makes you believe you're watching Death of a Salesman but with far more laughs.

Hampstead Theatre, London NW3 (0171-722 9301)

Guys and Dolls

Oh joy! There are still tickets available for this, the best possible night out. Rush to the phone.

National Theatre, London SE1 (0171-928 2252)

David Benedict