Film Stars Come to Broadway in The Real Thing

Film Stars Come to Broadway in The Real Thing

(Courtesy The Real Thing)

Last week, I saw the new Broadway play The Real Thing, which opens at the end of October. Chock full of well-known actors and British humor, the play follows the story of writer Henry (Ewan McGregor) and actress Annie (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who leave their actor spouses (Josh Hamilton and Cynthia Nixon) for each other.

The show begins with a scene from Henry’s play, starring Max (Hamilton) and Charlotte (Nixon) as a couple arguing about an alleged infidelity. Proving life imitates art, the play is soon mirrored in the characters’ real lives, as Annie tells Max she has cheated on him with the play’s writer and their mutual friend Henry. The aftermath of two break-ups leads to much musing about romantic relationships.

In addition to ruminations on love and marriage, the characters discuss music, theater and writing, peppering their conversations with plenty of highbrow quips, including a particularly funny joke about Beethoven and Buddy Holly. The dialogue is fairly pretentious, but Henry is especially “snobbish,” as Annie eventually argues during a scene that culminates in him comparing writing to a cricket bat. He also aspires to music snobbery and is “ashamed of liking pop music,” like The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” parts of which provide the show's sparse soundtrack.

Henry and Charlotte’s teenage daughter Debbie (Madeline Weinstein) speaks more frankly than the adults surrounding her and provides a much-needed foil to protagonist Henry. Though she isn’t seen until the second act, his daughter’s more interesting life gives self-involved Henry something to worry about other than himself, his career and his love life.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit roundabouttheatre.org.

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