Henry (Toby Stephens is married to Charlotte (Fenella Woolgar), an actress playing the lead in his current play about adultery. Her co-star Max (Barnaby Kay) is married to Annie (Hattie Morahan), also an actor. When Henry and Annie fall in love, Henry discovers that love - ‘the real thing’ - can be unpredictable and painful.
When it premiered in London and New York in the 1980s, The Real Thing won the Evening Standard and Tony Awards for Best Play. It was famously revived at the Donmar Warehouse in 1999, in a production that starred Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle as Henry and Annie. The following year, that production also transferred first to the West End and then on to Broadway, where it won three Tony Awards, for Best Revival of a Play and Best Actor and Actress for Dillane and Ehle.
The new production, which continues until 5 June 2010, returns Stoppard’s work to the Old Vic, where his first play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, was a breakthrough hit for the then-resident National Theatre in 1967. The cast also includes Tom Austen, Louise Calf and Jordan Young. Design is by Lez Brotherston.