Blurred lines

Truth and LiesTony Award-winning playwright Tom Stoppard ambitiously examines the blurry lines between authentic love and artifice in “The Real Thing,” which opens the second half of the 2015-2016 Mainstage Series season.

Using a play within a play structure, Stoppard keeps his audience guessing as to which characters are supposed to be real, and which characters are playing the roles of actors.

Because no one on stage can quite identify what is real either, all the characters seem to wrestle with the validity of their relationships.

“Tom Stoppard is amazing with words,” director and NIU School of Theatre and Dance faculty member Kay Martinovich says. “He has a dexterity of language.”

At its core, the play is the story of a playwright who finds himself emotionally tortured in exactly the same way the characters in his plays are.

Martinovich describes their dilemma as the same thing every human being has probably faced at one time or another. “How can you tell if people are being genuine with you?” she asks.

However, she says the bigger question addressed by the play is defining what love actually is. “It’s ineffable. Non-tangible. You can’t explain it with words,” Martinovich says. “(This is) a language play about love, relationships, issues of infidelity and what it means to be in a relationship.”

Stoppard is also an award-winning playwright for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour” and “Rock ’n’ Roll.” He also co-wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for the film, “Shakespeare in Love.”

The Real Thing runs from Thursday, Feb. 4, through Sunday, Feb. 7, and from Thursday, Feb. 11, through Saturday, Feb. 13.

Performances will be held at Huntley Middle School, located at 1515 S. Fourth St. Curtain times are at 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays with 2 p.m. matinee performances Sunday and the second Saturday. Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and $9 for students.

For more information, call (815) 753-1600 or email sotdboxoffice@niu.edu.

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