“Well, what do you think?” said the woman to my right. “Did she have it off or didn’t she?” I put some sugar in my coffee and said I thought she probably hadn’t.

We were discussing the new Tom Stoppard play. Since The Real Thing opened here in January at the Plymouth Theater I have had a number of animated conversations about Henry and Annie’s marriage, Henry being the hero of The Real Thing (Jeremy Irons) and Annie (Glenn Close) the wife who is giving him such a hard time. That Glenn Close is “being unfaithful” to Jeremy Irons in some capacity is never really in question in these debates: the issue is simply whether or not she actually commits adultery. The play leaves it ambiguous.

The playwright husband and his actress wife have quarreled twice: once (early on) about jealousy, a...


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