Topics for Further Study
There are several possible ways to interpret the conclusion of The Real Thing. Do you believe that Annie and Henry will be happy together? Or is their relationship, like their first marriages, doomed to failure?
Describe Henry’s beliefs about art and about the relationship of art to society. Then describe Annie’s beliefs about the same things. Which set of beliefs do you find more compelling? Why?
Discuss the relationship between the main play and one or two of the other plays Stoppard refers to in The Real Thing. What do these extracts suggest to the audience about Henry and Annie?
What was your response to the character of Henry? Did you feel alienated by him, or did you empathize with him? Focus your response by discussing two scenes in which he appears and using his behavior in them to illustrate your argument.
Can a comedy like The Real Thing really be a medium for social criticism? Focus your response by discussing two scenes in detail.
Research the rise of the television and media industry from the 1950s onwards. Has our new communications culture changed the way we think about reality? What position do you think Stoppard takes on this issue?