Sunday November 19th 2017

“The Real Thing”

Recommended  One might wonder how a playwright might view life, his or her own, not the characters they write about, and Tom Stoppard, a clever wordsmith, takes us on this journey in his “The Real Thing” now onstage at Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe. This is a small and very intimate venue which lends itself to plays such as this- intimate little stories, and under the direction  of Michael Halberstam, who has put together an all-star cast, this production shines. The story is about a playwright, Henry ( played to perfection by Sean Fortunato, who keeps showing us the ability to play any type of role) and his outlook on his own life as he sees his writings become reality and reality become his writings. The play starts off with what appears to be a couple going through some mixed feelings about her recent trips away on business, but as real as it appears, it is a play ( within this play) and the female character is played by Henry’s wife, Charlotte ( Natasha Lowe) and his best friend, Max ( John Sanders). What comesout inn the next scene is that Henry is having an affair with Max’s wife Annie ( a delightful and spirited performance by Carrie Coon).

They end up together and leading what appears to be a happy and contented marriage, although she has some involvement with Billy, a soldier who is in prison and who’s cause she has been following and involved in for years. As time goes on he writes his story as a play and it is awful. Henry takes on the task of making his words into understandable words instead of gibberish and Annie plays the leading lady. Her work takes her away from Henry and as life imitates art, Annie and Henry have a confrontation very close to that in Henry’s initial play ( The House of Cards) when Annie comes home from Scotland off schedule. It turns out that she has had a slight fling with the actor playing Billy ( Ryan Hallahan), but  Stoppard shows us that we can learn and benefit from honesty in our relationships with his clever ending. Henry’s daughter ( by Charlotte), Debbie ( played by Rae Gray, who many of us have watched grow up on the stages of Chicago) is a rebellious sort , who is artsy in her emotions and her lifestyle. This story is very much Henry’s story as a writer, a man and a lover. Annie of course is the other key ingredient in Stoppard examines the complexities of  Art and love and then of course adds reality to his recipe for sheer fun, while at the same time arousing the mind.

Stoppard is not for everybody, but for those of you who enjoy sharp, witty comedy with a little bit of heart warming reality, you will walk away from this one with a good feeling. Writers’ , now in its 20th season always brings us quality theater in its very intimate theaters. This production is at  their Tudor Court stage ( they also have an even smaller theater a few blocks south in the back of the bookstore) and as part of making us take notice, the set for this show ( Collette pollard) is quite unique in that the walls move, slide and convert from one scene to another right before our eyes as well as the handling of furniture and props ( Nick Heggestad truly does a magnificent job) and the stage crew should get a curtain call for their beautifully choreographed scene changes).

“The Real Thing” will continue at Writers’ located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe through November 20th  with performances as follows:

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m.,Thursday and Friday evenings at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m. ( no Sunday evening on 10/16 and 11/20). On October 12th and November 16th, there are added 2 p.m. matinees.

Tickets range from $45-$65 and can be purchase by calling the box office at 847-242-6000 or online at

Glencoe is an easy trip- Edens to Dundee ( rte 68) east to Vernon, south on Vernon to Tudor and left to the building. Plenty of free parking and some lovely little shops and dining spots in walking distance.  

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