Stephens discovers The Real Thing at Old Vic

Published December 7, 2009

Toby Stephens is to star in a new production of Tom Stoppard’s 1982 play The Real Thing at the Old Vic from 10 April (press night 21 April).

Stoppard’s comedy examines the complex nature of love, art and reality through the story of Henry, a successful and talented playwright who is married to Charlotte, an actress playing the lead in his current play about adultery. Her co-star and friend Max is married to Annie, also an actor. Henry and Annie have fallen in love but is it any more real than the subjects in Henry’s play? As the story unravels, Henry discovers that love – ‘the real thing’ – can be unpredictable and painful.

The Real Thing premiered in the West End in 1982 with Felicity Kendal and Roger Rees playing the leads. A Broadway production opened the following year starring Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close and Christine Baranski, all of whom won Tony Awards, as did the play itself and its director Mike Nichols. The play was last staged in the West End in 2000 at the Donmar Warehouse and Albery theatre (now Noël Coward), subsequently transferring to Broadway where it collected further Tony Awards for its leads Jennifer Ehle and Stephen Dillane.

Stephens, who plays Henry in Anna Mackmin’s revival at the Old Vic, was most recently seen on stage in A Doll’s House at the Donmar Warehouse earlier this year. The former Royal Shakespeare Company member has numerous West End stage credits including The Country Wife, Tartuffe and A Streetcar Named Desire. He has also been seen on screen in Jane Eyre, Cambridge Spies, The Camomile Lawn and the film Die Another Day.

Stoppard is one of Britain’s most acclaimed playwrights whose career spans five decades, beginning with his first hit, Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, which was staged at the Old Vic in 1967. Since then his work has included Jumpers, The Real Inspector Hound, The Coast Of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Hapgood, Arcadia and Rock ‘N’Roll.

Currently playing at the Old Vic is Inherit The Wind, starring Kevin Spacey and David Troughton, which ends its run on 20 December.

CB