The Real Thing BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • The Real Thing
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • AP

  • EW

  • HR

Opening Night:
October 30, 2014
Closing:
Open Ended

Theater: American Airlines / 227 West 42nd Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

The Real Thing returns to Broadway starring two-time Golden Globe nominee and Olivier nominee Ewan McGregor, Academy Award® nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Tony Award-winner Cynthia Nixon. Henry (Ewan McGregor) is a playwright not so happily married to Charlotte (Cynthia Nixon), the lead actress in his play about a marriage on the verge of collapse. When Henry’s affair with their friend Annie (Maggie Gyllenhaal) threatens to destroy his own marriage, he discovers that life has started imitating art. After Annie leaves her husband so she and Henry can begin a new life together, he can’t help but wonder whether their love is fiction or the real thing. The Real Thing takes a daring glimpse at relationships, fidelity, and the passions that often blur our perception of love.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Real Thing

    When the Head Leads the Heart

    Ben Brantley

    October 30, 2014: Do not be misled by the title. Authenticity is conspicuous only by its absence in the tinny revival of The Real Thing, which opened on Thursday night at the American Airlines Theater. Evidence of real feelings, real chemistry and real life in general is dishearteningly scarce in this interpretation of Tom Stoppard’s 1982 comedy about one all-too-witty writer’s emotional block. Despite a talented big-name cast, including the movie stars Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal in their Broadway debuts, this Roundabout Theater Company production is one of those unfortunate revivals that make you wonder if the play in question is worth revisiting. How can this be? The Real Thing is generally regarded as the Stoppard work that pretty much anybody can warm to, even folks usually put off by the cerebral games this dramatist is wont to play. It is not about head-scratching, highfalutin’ figures like the brilliant but ambivalent Russian revolutionaries of his The Coast of Utopia, or the brilliant but ambivalent philosopher of Jumpers, or the brilliant but ambivalent Cambridge don and poet (A. E. Housman) of The Invention of Love.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF The Real Thing

    Stoppard’s brainy love story melts our hearts

    David Cote

    October 30, 2014: One of the finest speeches in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (and there are several), concerns the absolute value of good construction, using a cricket bat as an example. Henry (McGregor), an emotionally moderate but aesthetically conservative playwright, explains to second wife, Annie (Gyllenhaal), that they’re specially built to give maximum propulsion to the struck ball. “What we’re trying to do,” he sums up, “is write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might…travel.” True to form, The Real Thing (1982) is exceedingly well made, a keen and touching study of fidelity, fiction and marital love among theater folk. Its craftsmanship is so solid, in fact, it resists director Sam Gold’s well-meaning attempts to improve it. Over past seasons, I’ve been pleased to see the Roundabout bringing Gold in to rethink classics such as Look Back in Anger and Picnic. He knows that foreshortened space or foregrounded design can work dramaturgical wonders, blow the dust off. With Stoppard, though, you don’t need to tinker much; it’s all on the page. Gold’s work with the actors is perfectly sound; McGregor and Gyllenhaal are naturally charismatic, intelligent performers who deliver Stoppard’s brainy badinage with nervy aplomb.

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW OF The Real Thing

    'The Real Thing' Is Thoroughly Excellent

    Mark Kennedy

    October 30, 2014: A thoroughly excellent and tuneful version of Tom Stoppard's brilliant play about love and fidelity opened Thursday at the American Airlines Theatre, directed by Sam Gold and featuring a dozen songs, both sung onstage by the actors between scenes or wafting out of record players. The Roundabout Theatre Company revival begins with Smokey Robinson and the Temptations' "I'm in Trouble" with lyrics that prove to be prescient. "If you decide to make me blue, I'll be in trouble/If you decide to be untrue, I'll be in trouble/'Cause no matter what you do or say, I know I'm gonna love you anyway." It ends with the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows," and the lyric: "God only knows what I'd be without you." Stoppard's play always embraced music — it features a main character devoted to '60s pop and the script calls for Strauss, "The Skater's Waltz," some Verdi and the tune "A Whiter Shade of Pale" — but Gold has added more, giving the story more layers by including such tailor-made songs as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "I'm Into Something Good." Some may grouse that they may be a little too on-point for such a slippery play, but the actors integrate them well, even singing around a guitar.

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  • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY REVIEW OF The Real Thing

    The Real Thing Review

    Thom Geier

    October 30, 2014: Tom Stoppard is justly renowned for his erudition and wit, but in his 1980s drama The Real Thing he also found a (philandering) heartbeat beneath all the allusions to Strindberg, Wilde, Coward, and Herman's Hermits. The hero is a Stoppard-like playwright named Henry (Ewan McGregor), who drops one actress wife (Cynthia Nixon) for another (Maggie Gyllenhaal) as he searches for ever-elusive authenticity at home and at work. Henry's snobbishly high standards are continually thwarted—by writer's block, by the need to take dumb TV-script assignments, by his new wife's infidelity, and even by his own (mostly closeted) populist tastes.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF The Real Thing

    In a play that should toy with the dividing lines between truth and artifice, artificiality dominates

    David Rooney

    October 30, 2014: Ewan McGregor makes an assured Broadway debut as Tom Stoppard's semi-autobiographical stand-in, an erudite playwright struggling to tame the slippery concept of love in his writing as well as his personal life in The Real Thing. Maggie Gyllenhaal also brings poise and sophistication to the actress who breaks up his marriage and becomes his second wife. But pretty much everything else in Sam Gold's hollow revival is a little off. That goes for a terribly miscast Cynthia Nixon, a too-literal design concept that's hard on the eyes, and sing-along scene changes that are as cloying as they are superfluous, serving mainly to yank us out of the play. First seen in London in 1982, The Real Thing was substantially revised for Broadway two years later in what became its definitive version. That production won Tony Awards for best play, director Mike Nichols, leads Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close, and featured actress Christine Baranski. A then 17-year-old Nixon made Broadway history by appearing as the teenage Debbie in the character's lone second-act scene, sandwiched between her stage time in Nichols' production of David Rabe's Hurlyburly, running simultaneously two blocks away. The Stoppard work returned to Broadway in 2000, winning Tonys for best play revival and leads Stephen Dillaneand Jennifer Ehle.

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