Review: The Real Thing
Laurence Fox's new play The Real Thing is showing in Kingston and Guildford. Here's what Muddy writer Josh Clarke made of it.
What is illusion and what is reality? What is ‘The Real Thing’? Tom Stoppard’s 1982 play, which examines those questions is at the Rose Theatre in Kingston in a new production starring Laurence Fox.
Fox plays Henry, a playwright on the hunt for the real thing, whether that be in the art he creates or the love he finds. After a slow start, Fox excels in the role, especially in the second half combining razor sharp intellect with a lively sense of comic timing.
In his set Jonathan Fensom has created a home that feels like a hotel, with clinical, minimalist pieces of furniture, allowing for the text and dialogue to take centre stage. John Leonard’s sound design firmly places us in the 1980s with well-known tracks immersing the audience into the world of the play with clever use of the record player on stage.
Stoppard’s play is dense in richness and at times reads more like a novel. His intricate wordplay is an actor’s dream and the cast thrive on his dialogue, delivering some very strong performances. It’s a play that would benefit from second viewing as there is a lot to get to grips with but that doesn’t take anything away from a great evening of theatre.