The Real Thing (play)

The Real Thing
Cover of the Faber and Faber edition
Written byTom Stoppard
Date premiered16 November 1982 (1982-11-16)
Place premieredThe Strand Theatre (now the Novello Theatre), London
Original languageEnglish
SubjectLove, reality versus fiction

The Real Thing is a play by Tom Stoppard that was first performed in 1982. It examines the nature of honesty and uses various constructs, including a play within a play, to explore the theme of reality versus appearance.

The play focuses on the relationship between Henry and Annie, an actress and member of a group fighting to free Brodie, a Scottish soldier imprisoned for burning a memorial wreath during a protest.


Max: "40-ish" male actor who begins the play married to Annie. Acts in Henry's new play, House of Cards.

Charlotte: "35-ish" female actor who begins the play married to Henry. Appears opposite Max in House of Cards.

Henry: "40-ish" playwright who, at the beginning of the play, is married to Charlotte and conducting an affair with Annie. Both believe in love and yet approach it with cynicism.

Annie: "30-ish" female actor who begins the play married to Max. She has been conducting an ongoing affair with Henry while also working as an activist for Brodie, a soldier who was arrested and imprisoned for setting fire to a wreath at the Cenotaph.

Billy: "22-ish" young actor who plays Giovanni to Annie's Annabella in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. Openly shows romantic interest in Annie.

Debbie: "17" year old daughter of Charlotte and Henry who nevertheless spends very little time with them.

Brodie: "25" year old soldier imprisoned for setting fire to the wreath at the Cenotaph. Annie takes him up as a cause.[1]