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Still time to catch The Real Thing in Cambridge

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The Real Thing, starring Laurence Fox and Rebecca Johnson
The Real Thing, starring Laurence Fox and Rebecca Johnson

The Tom Stoppard play runs at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday.

First performed in London in 1982, the award-winning The Real Thing is an often complex and intellectual look at infidelity, using the concept of a ‘play within a play’ to tell the story.

This new version stars Laurence Fox as Henry, the smartest and sharpest playwright of his generation, and Rebecca Johnson as his actress wife Charlotte, who has been appearing in a play by Henry about a couple whose marriage is on the verge of collapse.

Max, her leading man – played by Adam Jackson-Smith – is also married to an actress, Annie (Flora Spencer-Longhurst). When Henry’s affair with Annie threatens to destroy his own marriage, he realises life has started imitating art.

While often laugh-out-loud funny, I have to admit I was a little confused as to what was happening throughout the first half – though did enjoy the attention to detail, the first scene with Charlotte and Max (I later learned that it was in fact a scene from one of Henry’s plays) and the bizarre interplay between the characters.

The set successfully evoked the early 1980s with typewriters and records and Fox was convincing as the brilliantly sardonic Henry.

Things became a bit clearer during the second half and the introduction of Henry and Charlotte’s daughter, Debbie (Venice Van Someren), and energetic young actor Billy (Kit Young) breathed new life into the play, as the story gradually unravelled.

The Real Thing is not for everyone, but is worth seeing if only for the well-constructed dialogue and obstructive-and-hilarious-in-equal-measure character of Henry.

The play starts at 7.45pm and there is also a matinee performance on Thursday, September 14 and Saturday, September 16 at 2.30pm.

Tickets are £23-£42 and include a £3 per-ticket booking fee.


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