November 28, 2014
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‘The Real Thing’ is a real good thing at Gamm
Theatre Review
Don Fowler

Tom Stoppard’s very personal Tony Award winning play about love and relationships gets an impassioned production at Gamm Theatre under the direction of Fred Sullivan Jr., who had appeared in the play at Trinity over 25 years ago.

Tony Estrella plays Stoppard’s alter ego, Henry, a writer married to an actress who falls in love with his best friend’s actress-wife (Jeanine Kane).

The longer second act takes place in London two years “and a bit” later. Max and Annie are now a couple. He pursues his writing, while she pursues her acting career, committed to appear in a terribly written play by a leftist playwright (Steve Kidd), whom we don’t meet until the final scene.

Pay attention, because there are moments when we witness plays within plays, as Annie becomes involved with Billie, a young actor who is madly in love with her.

Stoppard continuously asks the big question through Max: “Is this the real thing?”, as he struggles with new-found jealousy. Stoppard’s language, mostly through Max, is terrific: sharp, witty, and sardonic. He is a great writer who at times is curt and at times goes on a bit too long. He cleverly mixes music, from pop to classical, to enhance situations.

Max and Annie continuously ask each other “Are you all right?” responding in the positive, but feeling quite negative. There are some very funny moments as Max questions Brodie’s play, which eventually turns dark as Max loses his sense of reason and his dignity through uncontrollable jealousy.

The play will give you much to ponder as the characters search for their own identities and search for “The Real Thing.”

At Gamm Theatre through April 14. Call 723 for reservations.


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