Audition: The Real Thing

Audition Dates:                        Wednesday 6 February 7.30pm
                                                 Sunday 10 February 6.30pm

Recalls:                                     Wednesday 13 February 7.30pm

Performance Space:                 Putney Arts Theatre 150-seat main stage

Performance Dates:                Tuesday 23 – Saturday 27 April at 7.45pm

Rehearsal Period: Rehearsals will take place from late February at 7.30pm for two or three evenings on Monday to Thursday, as well as around three hours' rehearsal on a Sunday afternoon or evening. On rare occasions there may be a need to rehearse on Saturdays and to rehearse on different days and times. Not all actors will be called for all rehearsals and those with larger roles (particularly Henry and Annie) can expect to be called far more often than actors cast in smaller roles.


The play

The Real Thing is one of Tom Stoppard’s best-known and most popular works. The original West End production of his “intelligent pay about love” ran from 1982-85, and dissects the relationships between Henry, “one of your intellectual playwrights”, and Annie, the actress with whom he has an affair and then marries. Stoppard said the play was “about the difference between someone writing about love and the real thing. It is full of felt things, experienced things.”

The play deals with a variety of themes including commitment, fidelity (both to a person and a cause), and the nature and function of art, and does so through a cunningly-fashioned structure featuring plays within plays and a profusion of double meanings. It is nonetheless a very funny comedy. While the characters all exhibit strong feelings, they do so without sacrificing the playwright’s usual humour and playful intellect. 

While the play is now nearly 37 years old it has not dated in any important respect. However, this production will retain the original 1980s setting, which is necessary to many of its cultural and political reference points.



Note that while all the characters are written as white, they don’t necessarily have to be played by white actors. Actors from other ethnicities should not consider that a barrier to casting in this production. The ability to speak with a middle-class English accent is essential, however (except for the actor playing Brodie, who is Scottish). The playing ages below should be considered a rough guideline, not a definite limit.

Henry (male, 30s-early 50s): A playwright. Clever and exceptionally witty, Henry habitually uses almost every situation as an excuse to craft a joke, but is frequently surprised by the strength of his emotions. In love with Annie, words, and the pop music of the 50s and 60s. Instinctively suspicious of political ideology.

Annie (female, 30s-40s): An actress with whom henry is having and affair and later marries. She takes up the cause of a young man named Brodie, imprisoned for an act of political defiance (or vandalism, depending on one’s perspective) and pursues it with passion and tenacity – to Henry’s discomfiture and bafflement.

Charlotte (female, 30s-40s): Another actress, married to Henry at the start of the play and appearing in a show written by him, House of Cards. They divorce following Henry’s affair with Annie, but remain on good terms. Sardonically witty, she has a disillusioned, or perhaps cynical, attitude to love and fidelity.

Max (male, 30s-early 50s): An actor, married to Annie at the start of the play and starring alongside Charlotte in House of Cards. Nice, generally easy-going and seldom assertive, he is devastated by the revelation of Annie’s affair with Henry.

Debbie (female, 17): Henry and Charlotte’s teenage daughter. She has inherited Henry’s wit and a bit of her mother’s toughness, as well as her liberated attitude to sex. A small but potentially scene-stealing role.

Billy (male, 20s) A young, passionate and idealistic actor who performs alongside Annie in a production of 17th century tragedy ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore and begins an affair with her. Requires a Scottish accent for when he plays the role of Brodie in Brodie’s play.

Brodie (male, 20s): Scottish former soldier and prisoner, now a radical left-winger and bad playwright. Brodie appears in one scene at the end of the play and the role could be doubled with Billy.


Audition preparation

While it isn’t required, it is recommended that you read the play before auditioning. Please try arrive around ten minutes before the scheduled audition start time to fill in an audition form. Bring your diary so that you can let us know on your form about any dates during the rehearsal process when you are unavailable.


To facilitate planning we would appreciate it if you email the director, Stuart Watson (address below) before the audition date to tell us which audition you will be attending and which role(s) you would like to read for. However, don’t let that prevent you from attending if your decision to audition is made at the last minute. If you have any questions (about your suitability for a role, for example) or cannot make the official dates, but would still like to audition then feel free to email

Please note: This is an amateur production. You do not need to be a member of Putney Theatre Company to audition, but actors and crew will need to become members of Putney Theatre Company to take part in the show (£20 a year), and actors must pay a £25 show fee.


Backstage opportunities available include:

Lighting and sound operators

Set construction

Costume designer

Costume assistants


Please get in touch with if you are interested in getting involved.