Overview

Real Thing


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A: Tom Stoppard Pf: 1982, London Pb: 1982; rev. 1983, 1984 G: Com. in 2 acts S: Various interiors in London, c.1980 C: 4m, 3fMax discovers that his wife Charlotte has been unfaithful, but this is revealed to be a scene from Henry's latest play, House of Cards. In fact, Max's real-life wife Annie is having an affair with Henry, who is married to Charlotte. Henry, a successful writer of 40, shortly to appear on Desert Island Discs, leaves Charlotte to set up home with Annie, 10 years his junior. Two years later, Annie is involved with an AWOL Scots soldier Brodie, who agrees to join her on an anti-nuclear demonstration. In an attempt to impress Annie, he sets fire to a wreath on the Cenotaph and is jailed. She asks Henry to rewrite Brodie's autobiographical television play, but it is so poorly written that he refuses. Henry now discovers that Annie has had a fling with a 22-year-old actor Billy (while performing the title role in Tis Pity She's a Whore). Despite everything, Henry and Annie decide that they have discovered ‘the real thing’ and remain together, while Henry begins work on Brodie's play.

A: Tom Stoppard Pf: 1982, London Pb: 1982; rev. 1983, 1984 G: Com. in 2 acts S: Various interiors in London, c.1980 C: 4m, 3f

This play represented a new departure for Stoppard: for the first time he abandoned both obvious theatricality (apart from the trick of revealing the opening scene to be from a play) and clever intellectual pyrotechnics to concentrate on the portrayal of human emotion. Uncharacteristically ‘shedding inhibitions about self-revelation’, Stoppard here considers the nature of true love, whether it is to be found in passion, commitment, generosity of spirit, or whether ‘the real thing’ exists nowhere outside the fiction of theatre.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


Reference entries
Authors

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) British dramatist, born in Czechoslovakia


Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.