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The Real Thing: A Comedy in Two Acts
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The Real Thing: A Comedy in Two Acts

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,365 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
The play begins with Max and Charlotte, a couple whose marriage seems about to rupture. But nothing one sees on a stage is the real thing, and some things are less real than others. Charlotte is an actress who has been appearing in a play about marriage by her husband, Henry. Max, her leading man, is also married to an actress, Annie. Both marriages are at the point of rup ...more
Paperback, 118 pages
Published January 28th 1984 by Samuel French (first published 1982)
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Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't be fooled by the title; this isn't a play about Coke or Faith No More's best album (you watch; I'll get an argument on that last one) but rather a searching character piece about LOVE.

To be more specific, it explores the nature of love and how it means different things to different people. It includes betrayal, devotion, sex, parental love and that old favourite, unrequited love.

It also includes a brief exploration of highbrow and lowbrow art which, I suspect, is meant to draw a parallel w
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers & the literati
December of Drama 2015, day seventeen

"If you want a lover,
I'll do anything you ask me to.
And if you want another kind of love,
I'll wear a mask for you.
--I'm Your Man, by Leonard Cohen

There are some who would call this "a fine play," and it is. There are others who will call it "a clever play," and it's that, too. But it's not just fine, nor merely clever. In fact there's a point where anybody watching (or reading) it may ask themselves whether what it's doing is anything more than cleverness.
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1982
I think this play has one of the best lines about enduring love and enduring through love. Even though the characters and incredibly flawed, I appreciated their vulnerability and desire to stay together despite the fact that their relationship was getting difficult. Stoppard does a great job portraying two characters who don't want to stay together because of a buildup of tension and yet who still feel compelled to remain. It's not a simplistic portrayal either. The two characters are not so dev ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s not too hard a thing, to start reading plays. I’m glad it seems I’m able to start to read on my own a bit.

Stoppard. I hesitate to say I like any given author. It’s the work, you see, that is more interesting. Authors can be fallible. They can create a masterpiece like EoE and then have…the rest. I thin I really want to say that I enjoy Stoppard. R&G? Quite innovative, funny, light and at the same time dark; cynical while optimistic. Arcadia, of course. I gush about it.
So where does the
Rachel C.
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: form-play-script
In a word: spectacular.

Stoppard uses the play-within-a-play structure to mess around with ideas of reality, honesty, fidelity and love. Characters include a playwright (Henry) and two actresses (Charlotte and Annie). Henry is married to first one, then the other: "To marry one actress is unfortunate, to marry two is simply asking for it."

Stoppard puts his gift for verbal gymnastics into Henry's mouth and we watch Henry struggle (eloquently) to articulate how he feels about the women in his life,
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leslie by: Andy
Shelves: plays
Very enjoyable play about love (when is it "the real thing"?). The play centers around Henry (a playwright) and Annie (an actress); as often in Stoppard's plays, certain scenes & phrases repeat throughout the play with small variations. In this play one of the repeating scenes is of a wife returning home after a trip to a husband who thinks he has evidence of her infidelity -- sometimes the husband is mistaken, sometimes the wife has lied but not been unfaithful, sometimes he is correct. I f ...more
Erisa Isak
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

So eh, I decided to give it an extra star . . . for the language in it. I came back to get a quote, and ended up reading the whole play. It's such a pleasure to read!
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Stoppard, Tom. THE REAL THING. (1984). *****. Written with Stoppard’s patented wit, this play focuses on love – at first with comic wit, then with mordant wit. His characters are all actors, theater artists, or writers; the kinds of people who excel at clever and stylish deception. The play is built on layer after layer of appearances that seem to be truth, but turn out to be deception, or, maybe, different forms of truth. In the opening act, we meet Max and Charlotte, a married couple. Max is i ...more
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
This play about fidelity and infidelity may be self serving, if Stoppard's private life is considered, but that doesn't stop it being sharp, clever, acid, insightful, witty, elegant, highly structured, and all the things that seem to be his hallmark.

The structure is tricksy but so smoothly done as to be invisible without looking for it. Some of the diversions are brilliant - the cricket bat, though others less so - digital watches. Overall this is more accessible than other Stoppard plays in emo
Paul Secor
A play that concerns love, lust, honesty, writing - what more could I want?

Hot Violins - Joe Venuti, Eddie South, Clifford Hayes, Emilio Cacares, Stuff Smith, et. al.
Ornette Coleman: Virgin Beauty
Mingus Plays Piano
J.S. Bach: Cello Suites - Anner Bylsma (1992)
This probably sounds as pretentious as Henry's Desert Island Discs in the play, but we all are what we are.
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Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL, is a British screenwriter and playwright.

Born Tomáš Straussler.

More about Tom Stoppard...
“I mean, if Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at twenty-two, the history of music would have been very different. As would the history of aviation, of course.” 226 likes
“Words... They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good any more... I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you're dead.” 134 likes
More quotes…