The Real Thing (Soulpepper)
The Soulpepper Theatre Company, who are enjoying their first full season at the Young Centre For The Performing Arts in the Distillery District in Toronto, have been known in the past for tackling classic work with a new and fresh view, and while The Real Thing by famed playwright Tom Stoppard can’t be considered a classic yet, it tackles questions that will speak to us many years from now.
Diana LeBlanc has crafted smooth and wonderful performances from most of the cast, and the play moves along at a quick pace, making the two and a half hour running time seem like mere minutes.
The story starts with Henry (Albert Schultz) and his wife, Charlotte (Kristina Nicoll) as it is revealed that Henry is leaving Charlotte for his lover, Annie (Megan Follows), who is married to Max (C. David Johnson). The two lovers start a new life together, but doubts about infidelity and the true meaning of love come into question, and Henry, being a playwright, seems to be living out one of his plays, entitled House Of Cards, and is tormented by the thought that Annie might be having an affair.
The cast is generally very strong, especially the work of Albert Schultz and Megan Follows. They bicker and argue with one another, but you can sense that, deep down, that these characters truly do love each other. There are some other fine performances from C. David Johnson as Max, Annie’s ex-husband, and Matthew Edison as Billy, an actor working closely with Annie on a new play, who doesn’t hide his feelings for her.
Douglas Paraschuk, the set and costume designer, uses the space perfectly with simple movements of furniture and set decor, and Leigh Ann Vardy has created a beautifully simple lighting design that is haunting and sets the ambience for each setting of the piece.
Is this the real thing? It sure is. This is what theatre is meant to be – a touching, thought prevoking piece handled by wonderful actors and a sound, competent director.
****(out of five)
The Real Thing
By Tom Stoppard
Directed by Diana LeBlanc
Starring Albert Schultz and Megan Follows
Playing now until July 29th (in rep)