Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Real Thing

by Tom Stoppard

Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning play about marriage, infidelity, and the boundaries of fact and fiction.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 112
  • Publication Date November 21, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2744-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

The Real Thing is one of Tom Stoppard’s most enduring and highly acclaimed dramatic works, first performed in 1982 at The Strand Theatre in London, starring Felicity Kendal and Roger Rees. The Real Thing begins with Max and Charlotte, a couple whose marriage is on the verge of collapse. Charlotte is an actress who has been appearing in a play about marriage written by her husband, Henry. Max, her leading man, is also married to an actress, Annie. Both marriages are at the point of rupture because Henry and Annie have fallen in love. But is it the real thing? Tom Stoppard combines his characteristically brilliant wordplay and wit with flashes of insight that illuminate the nature—and the mystery—of love, creating a multi-toned play that challenges the mind while searching out the innermost secrets of the heart. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play, The Real Thing is brilliant and heartfelt, an extraordinary theatrical exploration of marriage, fidelity, and the creative life.


“In The Real Thing . . . [Stoppard] turns his attention to private passion—and he does so without mortgaging an intellect that has few equals in the contemporary theater . . . Not only Mr. Stoppard’s most moving play, but also the most bracing plays that anyone has written about love and marriage in years . . . Densely and entertainingly packed with wit, ideas and feelings.”—Frank Rich, New York Times

“A play of ideas, passionately held and eloquently written from start to finish . . . The Real Thing is the real thing, a play by a world-class writer, a play with insights that follow you out of the theater and deep into the night.”—Los Angeles Times

“Exquisite . . . Stoppard brings head and heart, life and art together in an exhilarating way . . . The Real Thing moves with a restless energy, bouncing forward two years and complicating the action with new lovers and new plays. Stoppard works it all into a play that is at once tightly structured and expansive.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Tom Stoppard is justly renowned for his erudition and wit, but in his 1980s drama The Real Thing he also found a (philandering) heartbeat.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Fidelity, love, fiction, passion, authenticity—these are just a few of the juicy issues running around Tom Stoppard’s masterful 1982 marital drama . . . The Real Thing (1982) is exceedingly well made, a keen and touching study of fidelity, fiction and marital love . . . Stoppard’s brainy love story melts our hearts.”—Time Out New York

“This play[’s] . . . intellectual pyrotechnics are matched by its heart.”—Hollywood Reporter

“Highly entertaining, showcasing Stoppard’s sparkling wit and barbed observations of fidelity and marriage . . . Stoppard’s slicing-and-dicing bon mots are delivered with clarity and precision.”—Broadway World

“[The Real Thing] is about both love and art, and it is wise, witty, and astonishing through and through . . . Enthralling.”―Financial Times (UK)

“You couldn’t ask for a more deeply felt, or more deeply affecting, drama about love than this . . . The Real Thing is indeed the genuine article—a play of strength, grace, melancholy and wit.”―Daily Telegraph (UK)

“When it comes to putting erotic love in its place, no contemporary English playwright has done so with such illuminating rigour or eloquence as Tom Stoppard.”―Evening Standard (UK)

“A heart-wrenching play . . . [and] poignant postmodern comedy.”—Guardian