The Real Thing is about a successful playwright called Henry. Henry's wife Charlotte is playing the lead in his new play about adultery. Her co-star and mate is Max, married to Annie, another actress. The trouble is, Henry has fallen in love with Max's wife, Annie...
If you're familiar with Tom Stoppard's other plays and films (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Shakespeare in Love, Arcadia and so on) you'll probably spot the potential for some deliciously familiar Stoppardian themes in The Real Thing. There's a play within a play, life imitating art, one man's attempt to "write love" when he really can't work out how to live it, the difficulty in choosing your desert island discs... OK, perhaps the last one's not a universal theme, but it does show up here.
Previous incarnations of The Real Thing have been showered with awards. After Flick Kendal and Roger Rees' West End premiere won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play, Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close won Tonys (theatrical Oscars) playing Henry and Charlotte on Broadway, and the play took the Tony for Best Play. Then in 2000, Jennifer Ehle and Stephen Dillane collected Tonys when their Donmar production of the same show transferred to Broadway.
Book now to see Toby Stephens (you'll recognise him from TV and films like Jane Eyre, Cambridge Spies, The Camomile Lawn and Die Another Day) and Fenella Woolgar's (from film Vera Drake and Time and the Conways at the National) take on this classic play.
And don't forget, if you're under 25, you're eligible for one of the 100 £12 tickets set aside for each performance at the Old Vic (don't forget to take proof of your age). And if you live or work in Lambeth or Southwark, you can get a discounted community ticket (£5 instead of £15), if you take along a bill or council tax statement as proof of address, or a business card or letterhead as proof of your employment. Welcome to the cheap seats: we don't think you'll be disappointed.
The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard plays at The Old Vic from 10 Apr-5 Jun. Book online or call 0844 871 7642.