What is love? That is the question in Tom Stoppard’s complex play The Real Thing which Henley Players performed with charismatic and compelling performances at the Kenton last week.
The story follows Henry, a playwright (played by Tim Harling) and actress Annie (played by Gráinne Harling) who have been having an affair but after leaving their respective partners do they find love (is this the real thing?) in their new relationship or does history repeat itself? The opening scene is clever as it is a play within a play, the House of Cards play written by Henry with his current wife Charlotte as the leading actress and requires the audience to play close attention. The irony of this is in the conclusion of the play (no spoilers here).
Husband and wife in real life, Tim and Gráinne are superb and natural in their performances. The quick, witty and long dialects are delivered brilliantly with emotion and finesse. Charlotte (Donna Thomson) and Max, Annie’s ex husband (Ioan Havard) play excellent supporting roles. Love interests Billy (Stephen Taylor-Brown) and Brodie (Nathan Bristow) honed their Scottish accents with bravado and first timer for Henley Players, Sigourney Lee pulls off Debbie, (Henry’s and Charlotte’s 17-year-old daughter) with realistic sultry teenage movements and prose. As it said in the programme, Stephen who agreed to take the role at short notice so he could snog Gráinne in front of her husband certainly pulled off a gem of a canny Scotsman!
Based in the early 80s, the scenery, props and music bring back fond memories of this bygone era. We particularly loved the old fashioned typewriter, record player, the house rotary phone and references including pineapple chunks!
Henley Players, a local amateur dramatic society pulled off this entertaining and pertinent play with the class of a professional touring company. Don’t miss their next production Ladies in Lavender, an award-winning play by Shaun McKenna later this year.
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