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Theater Review

Wordplay amuses in Stoppard play

By Juliet Schoen/Staff Writer

Although first produced in the early ’80s, “The Real Thing,” by Tom Stoppard, hardly seems dated, addressing such time-honored themes as love, infidelity, and the purpose of art. Only because the characters play the incessant music on their archaic turntables, do we know we’re in an earlier London. The production of this Tony Award-winning play is at the Center Theater in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center through June 29.

The four leading actors play mix-and-match couples. Robertson Dean, as Henry, the playwright, deftly switches from swift repartee and learned (snobby?) dissertations to, finally, emotional angst. Of course, when the dialogue comes from Stoppard, rapid-fire witticisms and turns-of phrase are de rigeur, as anyone who has seen his plays, such as “Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead,” or the movie, “Shakespeare in Love,” will avow. (If you are hearing-impaired or British accent-impaired you may request an amplification device at this small theatre.)

The stage rotates as deftly as the record turntables, presenting scenes in different living rooms and train compartments. A scene in a play, which opens the drama, later becomes the real thing. As usual with Stoppard, one has to wonder, what is the real thing?

Director Jules Aaron has performed admirably with the pacing, effectively using the music (which means so much to Henry) and the discussions on the meaning of art.

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However, the motives for the repairing of Henry with his second wife (Michelle Duffy) appear to be lacking. Although unfaithful, she clings to him as the one she loves. Joseph Sanfelippo is delightful and most believable as her tempter. Henry’s first wife, Charlotte, is winningly nasty as played by Laura Wernette. Spencer Garrett fills out the mnage a quatre as Charlotte’s husband. Darren Richardson and Erin Bennett appear in minor roles. The first act is quite diverting, and the second, though it can’t quite spin a convincing denoument, manages to entertain.

13StarsManager
13StarsManagerhttps://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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