The Real Thing Author:Tom Stoppard Tom Stoppard's THE REAL THING is a play of "dazzling verbal dexterity, wit, and even some very realistic pain." (William A. Raidy, THE STAR-LEDGER) It has also been called Stoppard's first real attempt at writing about "true love," the course of which hardly runs smooth in this romantic comedy of adultery and fidelity. — The opening scene begin... more »s with an elegant Englishman confronting his wife with evidence of her infidelity. The banter abounds and even includes the husband's one-line Gershwin reprise of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." However, the opening sketch turns out to be a fragment from a play within the play, entitled "House of Cards." The central character of THE REAL THING is Henry, a droll, intellectual playwright and the author of "House of Cards." The leading lady in "House of Cards" is Henry's actress wife, while her onstage husband, Max, is married to another actress, Annie, with whom Henry is having an adulterous affair. When Annie confesses her betrayal to Max, he has no quip or song but collapses in a heap like a house of cards, to which Annie comments, "His misery just seems... not in very good taste."
Henry and Annie marry, and the last half of the play follows the vicissitudes of this marriage. As Henry learns to deal with Annie's subsequent infidelity, he gains a self-knowledge through his pain and reveals "I can't write love--loving and being loved is unliterary," and "there is something scary about stupidity made coherent."
THE REAL THING is also about art, music, illusions, political radicalism, and more. "And what a stimulating, witty, infinitely human and charming play... It has a skyrocket quality to it that makes it vastly entertaining... and a human quality that makes it ennobling." William A. Raidy, THE STAR-LEDGER« less