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Director Jonathan Kent and translator David Hare have turned Chekhov's early play into a triumph. Great supporting performances (the drunk scene with Bill Paterson, Oliver Ford Davies and Anthony O'Donnell is a riot), and Ralph Fiennes brilliantly conveying the frustration of a man of action overcome by self-loathing.

Day seats and returns only. Almeida, London N1 (0171-359 4404)

The Merchant of Venice

David Schofield's splendidly sardonic Shylock is moving but never pathetic in Bill Alexander's intelligent, mixed-race staging. It keeps you watching and thinking, and never descends to the cheap sympathy vote. With Cathy Tyson as Portia.

Birmingham Rep (0121-236 4455)


Larry Lamb leads an immensely talented cast in David Levaux's ambitious staging of the musical based on Fellini's 81/2. Designer Anthony Ward does wonders (you try building Venice's Grand Canal, with water, on the Donmar's budget), and Maury Yeston's score has some real gems. Final week.

Donmar Warehouse, London WC2 (0171-369 1732)

East is East

Ayub Khan-Din's tremendous debut is a fresh, fast, smash-hit comedy of family tensions erupting at home and in the chip shop. Wonderfully well-observed conflicts and crackling dialogue delivered by a rumbunctious cast, led by an indomitable Linda Bassett. They have a ball doing it. So do we, watching it.

Theatre Royal, Stratford East (0181-534 0310)


Christopher Hampton's powerfully witty translation of Yazmina Reza's study of men behaving badly. Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott (a toweringly funny performance) leave at the end of the week. Make way for David Haig, Anton Lesser and Mark Williams.

Wyndham's Theatre, London (0171-369 1736)

A Chorus Line

Michael Bennett's singular sensation is stunningly simple in conception and gripping to watch. A brilliant expose of hope, dreams and reality as we root for a group of dancers desperate for a job. The film version was an absurdity: see the real thing. The 21st-anniversary tour starts here.

Theatre Royal, Plymouth (01752 267222)

David Benedict