Semiotic Analysis of "The Real Thing" by Tom Stoppard

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  • Topic: Set construction, Performance, Tom Stoppard
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  • Published : March 15, 2012
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Matriculation number: A0085975J
Module: TS1101e
Tutorial class: W3
AY2011-2012, Term 2
Performance Critique of Tom’s Stoppard’s THE REAL THING
On Thursday, 23rd February, I watched a play titled “The Real Thing”, written by Tom Stoppard, and directed by Nick Perry. It was presented by The Stage Club, at DBS Arts Centre. The play centres on themes including love and relationships, adultery, honesty, fiction and reality, and the functions of various aspects of mise-en-scene assist in bringing out these themes.

The bringing out of themes concerning love, adultery, and the harshness of reality, is supported by the usage of realistic, detailed set design and props in an attempt to recreate human life realistically. These include objects which serve actantial roles, like the typewriter, glasses of wine and cricket bat, being represented authentically or by visual replicas, thus being used as iconic signs of themselves. The set design of Henry’s living room over different periods also serves as an iconic representation of the time the play was set in, when considering specific props used, like the vinyl record player, typewriter, and the rotary dial telephone, which indicates a time set around the 1980’s, thus establishing a consistent time period for the play. This aspect of realistic stage design reduces the challenges of restructuring the stage, while shortening the psychical distance between the audience and the play, creating a natural stage environment the audience is familiar with. This allows the issues of concern to be portrayed in a setting of familiarity, creating the sense that these issues can be inherent anywhere in our world, building the audience’s sense of immediacy with the themes, thus improving the effectiveness of the messages conveyed. Lighting takes on various functions in the play, accentuating moods, and expressing emotions of the scenes more effectively, to underscore themes1. Lighting serves an atmospheric function in the scene...
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