Review: The Real Thing, by Tom Stoppard, Cambridge Arts Theatre,

A study of infidelity, honesty and adultery, The Real Thing is a thought- provoking play from the pen of Tom Stoppard.

Using the device of a play within a play the story follows the love lives of Annie and Henry – a rather reactionary playwright and a flighty actress who leave their respective partners for each other.

The play begins with a scene from Henry’s new play which is also concerned with the affects of adultery on the lives of those involved. The next scene depicts Henry and his wife Charlotte welcoming guests into their book-cased salon. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that not everyone is being totally honest with each other or even themselves.

Heavy, almost over, use of wordplay and what appears to be, at times irksome, linguistic pedantry – perhaps to others this is intellectual wit - this production directed by Kate Saxon, is nevertheless well acted, and well thought through. The set is clever – full marks to the backstage crew and the revolving sofa – and the laughs are there. But it isn’t really a laugh a minute show.

Gerald Kyd captures the rather unlikeable, intellectually snobbish and verbose Henry with style and Marianne Oldham plays with skill the equally verbose, rather annoying and somewhat selfish actress Annie who plays Henry at his own game. Sarah Ball is nicely cast as the slightly more likeable and perhaps less shallow Charlotte and Adam O’Brian performed well as Annie’s enthusiastic lover Billy.

Life reflects art and art reflects life and all the world’s a blur in between – this is an interesting play.

James Marston