Jason Carr's gorgeous, smoky, Fifties jazz score sets the tone for Steven Pimlott's dreamy, superbly convincing production of Tennessee Williams's neglected fantasy about love, hope and fate. The play appears to sprawl, but the evening coheres and gradually grips thanks to Yolande Sonnabend's designs and Peter Mumford's incredibly evocative lighting. A bold Darrell D'Silva heads an excellent cast including Susannah York, Peter Egan as Casanova, and a sardonic Leslie Phillips. Paola Dionisotti gloriously steals the show as a deliciously funny, no-nonsense, gypsy fortune-teller.
Young Vic, SE1 (0171-928 6363)
NOT ABOUT NIGHTINGALES
More rare Tennessee Williams, this time the world premiere of a sure- footed, heart-on-sleeve play about a prison riot. Trevor Nunn's powerhouse production makes a compelling case for the play and there are terrific performances throughout, but James Black is a complete knockout as the prisoner's ringleader. Jailhouse Rock it ain't.
National, SE1 (0171-928 2252)
Conor McPherson's award-strewn, beautifully told tale of tall stories in a country pub is exquisitely played, unfashionably gentle (hurrah), quietly compelling and very moving.
Royal Court at the Duke of Yorks, WC2 (0171-565 5000)
Sex, desire, death and hypocrisy: Neil Bartlett dusts down Terence Rattigan's final flop and rediscovers it as a stunning study of double-standards. Many Rattigan revivals only remind you why the angry young men sneered at him, but Bartlett's lucid, sharply directed and movingly acted production is simply superb.
Lyric Hammersmith, London W6 (0181-741 2311)
THE BARBERS OF SURREAL
Once you learn that the little dog's name is Andalou, you know that these guys know their surrealist onions. Think Alice in Wonderland with hair extensions and you're still nowhere near this extraordinarily inventive collision between theatre and film, pitched somewhere between childlike innocence and a horror film. By turns, absurdly funny, darkly mysterious, peculiarly haunting and barking mad.
Lyric Studio, Hammersmith W6 (0181-741 2311)
Judi Dench's performance is so astonishing and so unactor-ish that it was overlooked by the sensation-seeking Olivier panel. Shame on them. It is a privilege to see her in Richard Eyre's deeply felt production of David Hare's play.
Aldwych, WC2 (0171-416 6003)Reuse content