The Real Thing is not Tom Stoppard at his finest. It meanders, it’s too long, makes its points too loudly, and to be honest by the time the last half of act two rolled around I really had no time for any of the characters. One gets the sense that we’re supposed to find these people charming, but their affluence and pretentious musings on the nature of love just came across as arrogant. But perhaps that’s the point.
The play is certainly not bad, however, in fact it is actually quite funny. Daniel Jonusas (an actor who continues to get better with each and every show) was hysterical as Max and brought a brilliant earnestness to the character. Jemima Tyssen-Smith (Debbie), although only on stage briefly, brought a wonderful energy to her character, as did Hamish Rea (Billy). Special mention also has to go to Hannah Raymond-Cox (Charlotte) who gave a grounded and measured performance which nicely anchored the scenes she was in.
However, there was a moment in the last scene of the play where Harry Johnson (Brodie) took a plate of dip to the face in a “custard pie” fashion. I giggled but I couldn’t help but feel that this should have been the comedic apex of the show. This moment was a great example of the show’s big problem, lacking the comedic energy to ensure that the script’s jokes landed. There were plenty of moments where I felt like I should have been laughing but I simply wasn’t. Some of this can be attributed to actors delivering their lines in odd ways or looking like they are struggling for their lines at times. The cues were often sluggish as well, occasionally long enough to park a double-decker bus between. It drained the scenes of much needed energy, and energy is the life blood of comedy.
All in all there were some really entertaining moments in this production, but due to a lack of energy it quite often fell flat, exposing the weaknesses in the script.