A suspicious husband confronts his wife when she returns from a trip, and asks her about a curious anomaly.
Husband: “You went to Switzerland without your passport.”
Wife: “What makes you think I did that?”
Husband: “I found it in your recipe drawer.”
Wife: “What were you looking for?”
Husband: “Your passport.”
Wife: “It’s about the last place I would have looked.”
Husband: “It was.”
Wife: “Why were you looking for it?”
Oh dear, oh dear. And that’s just the start in a play in which relationship after relationship goes through a rocky breakup because someone starts sleeping with someone else on the side.
As you would expect from Stoppard, the dialog is fiendishly intelligent, and littered with pithy, pungent observations about art, politics and society. In addition, the private tragedy of betrayal and the comical confrontations between lovers with hurt feelings get whipped up in scenes that are simultaneously extremely sad and very silly.
Try this scene in which an actress can’t understand why her real life husband doesn’t get annoyed when a fellow actor she dispises misbehaves during their onstage love scenes.
Annie: “Jealosy is normal!”
Henry: “Well you just said you weren’t jealous.”
Annie: “Well why aren’t you ever jealous?”
Henry: “Of whom?
Annie: “Of anybody! You don’t care if Gerald Jones sticks his tongue in my ear, which incidentally he does any time he gets the chance.”
But wait, there’s more…
Henry: “This is stupid!”
Annie: “Why don’t you mind?”
Henry: “It’s true, I don’t.”
Keep your wits about you because Stoppard has planted surprises throughout the script, and the loyalties between lovers – past, present and future – shift constantly.
This is a very fine show – well directed, well acted, and needless to say well written – yet another strong production from a company that’s been staging one good show after another.
The Real Thing continues at Capital Stage in Sacramento through March 1, 2014