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University of Iowa News Release

July 2, 2003

Iowa Summer Rep Opens Stoppard's 'The Real Thing'

"Tom-Foolery: Three Comedies by Tom Stoppard," the 20th-anniversary season of Iowa Summer Rep's unique single-playwright festivals, will open the third of its trio of production with "The Real Thing" at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 17 in the E.C. Mabie Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building.

Other performances will be at 8 p.m. July 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26.

Iowa Summer Rep is the professional Actors' Equity company of the UI department of theatre arts.

"The Real Thing" won numerous Tony Awards for its 1984 Broadway debut starring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons. With a plot that swirls around the power of writing and the wobbly confluences of life and art, "The Real Thing" is "a play which reminds you why you go to the theatre and why you fall in love. And why, just sometimes, it is all worth the effort," in the words of critic Sheridan Morley.

"The Real Thing" opens with a confrontation between a married couple: the husband has just discovered the wife's infidelity. Of course, since this is Stoppard, the harsh and humorous exchange is a scene in a play by Henry, the wittiest playwright of his generation, performed by his wife, Charlotte, and their friend Max. And it is Henry who is being unfaithful; he is carrying on a clandestine affair with Max's wife, Annie.

Through the tail-chasing of life and art - told with Stoppard's characteristic wit and word-play -- Henry eventually learns some hard lessons about the nature of "the real thing" in both living and writing.

Critic Joseph Bowen wrote the "The Real Thing" is "is a sensitive and tumultuous play about love and relationships... an extremely intelligent and literate play that is also riveting.

A review by David Finkle observed, "Stoppard wrote The Real Thing with so much skill that the play still leaves an audience alternately breathless or holding its breath. The work is relentlessly clever in order to illustrate how, in regard to affairs of the heart, cleverness can be a handy cover-up for long denied instincts. 'What's so good about putting words together?' Henry is asked, and Stoppard makes a play that shows in equal measure what's great about word manipulation and what's dire about it... Throughout, Stoppard examines the difficulties inherent in sustaining passion and commitment, and the role that communication-with or without words-plays in the process."

The Iowa Summer Rep production of "The Real Thing" is staged by Artistic Director Eric Forsythe, with scenic design by Alison Ford, costume design by Jennifer Nutting, lighting design by Liza Williams and sound design by William Barbour. Actors Equity members Kristen Behrendt and Randy Noojin are featured in the cast headed by leads Tony Bingham and Mollie Mook.

Forsythe says, "Rehearsals for this amazing play have been a profound experience for us all. It is, indeed, a breathtaking script, and I'm so pleased to work with this fine group of actors and staff."

Stoppard began as a journalist and theater critic in the late 1950s, but the production of his first full-length play, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," in 1967 catapulted him into the ranks of England's most famous comic playwrights. His learned silliness is now seen as part of a "classic" tradition that includes the Goon Show, "A Hard Day's Night" and Monty Python's Flying Circus.

"Shakespeare in Love," the 1999 Oscar winner, is one of several film scripts he has written, or on which he has collaborated, including Terry Gilliam's "Brazil," the adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's "Billy Bathgate," "The Russia House" and Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."

Iowa Summer Rep is America's only professional company that makes each summer of festival of plays by a single contemporary playwright. Along with "Travesties," "Tom-Foolery" features Stoppard's "Rough Crossing" and "Travesties," as well as a reading of "The Real Inspector Hound."

Tickets to "The Real Thing" are $19 ($14 for senior citizens, and $10 for UI students and youth) from the Hancher box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office.

Hancher Auditorium summer box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays.

From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

Ticket-holders may chose to complete their evening out with a pre-performance dinner on the Theatre Building Plaza, overlooking the Iowa River.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Iowa Memorial Union Catering will offer a choice of three entrees, plus a Florentine Cooke Basket desert selection.

The entrees will be Grilled Sliced Breast of Chicken, Seared Salmon Filet, and Stuffed and Roasted Squash Boats, each with harmonious side dishes.

For dinner reservations, call the IMU Food Service at 319-335-3105.

Beverages will be also available before each performance and at intermission, and beverages and desserts will be served on the Plaza after each performance.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, Iowa Summer Rep Artistic Director Eric Forsythe

PHOTOS are available at .