Ain’t nothing but the Real Thing from the Company of Ten

The Real Thing

The Real Thing - Credit: Archant

The romantic side of Tom Stoppard comes out in his comedy The Real Thing which is the next production by the Company of Ten at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

The play, first staged in 1982, looks at the best and worst aspects of falling in love from a playwright best known for his intellect and clever word play.

There has been much speculation that it is autobiographical, fuelled by the fact that in its first incarnation, it starred the actress Felicity Kendall with whom Stoppard later became romantically involved and who became his muse.

The story revolves around Henry, a well-known playwright married to Charlotte, who falls deeply in love with Annie, an actress married to Max. Both leave their respective partners to be together but it is not until Henry, who has blithely written a hit play about adultery, embarks on an adulterous affair himself that he comes to realise the heartache and misery that love and betrayal can bring in their wake.

Scenes from Henry’s play are interwoven with the main action, teasing the audience with the difference between semblance and reality.

Newly and passionately in love, Henry struggles to write a play for Annie who, in her turn, is being pursued by an attractive young co-star.

In time the relationship between Annie and Henry is under strain because he invests too much faith in love.

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Director Andy Mills describes The Real Thing as, “A brilliant exploration of commitment and honesty – to lovers, spouses, children, causes and ideas. Stoppard brings together head and heart, life and art in exhilarating style. He poses the question, what is the real thing, and how do we recognise it?”

“The play is very funny and infused with Stoppard’s trademark wit. If I had to describe it in one sentence, I would say it is about the moment you stop thinking and start feeling.”

Performances begin at 8pm next Friday, February 26, and Saturday, February 27, and continue from Tuesday, March 1 until Saturday, March 5. There is also a matinee at 2.30pm on Sunday, February 28.

To book tickets go to the website or call the box office on 01727 857861.