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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.

Photo: Edmond Terakopian

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.

Photo: Edmond Terakopian

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.

Photo: Edmond Terakopian

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.

The Real Thing is at The Rose Theatre, Kingston until Sat 14 Oct.
It’s at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford from Mon 6 to Sat 11 Nov. 

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