Authenticity on the Postmodern Stage: Betrayal, The Real Thing and Closer


Lida Krüger
University of South Africa


Within the postmodern context, where originality is impossible, mimicry is not seen as something inauthentic, but as inextricably part of human existence. Although all three had initially been dismissed as superficial, Harold Pinter's Betrayal, Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, and Patrick Marber's Closer use the theme of marital betrayal as a trope to explore metatheatrical and epistemological issues. Authenticity has become increasingly fetishised since the advent of postmodernity, especially when considered in relation to theatre – a medium already perceived to be fake. Authenticity on the Postmodern Stage is a study of how these three plays define and explore authenticity within the fictional and actual worlds of theatre: it explores arbitrariness in the construction and mediation of the characters' identities, from their own and the audience's perspectives; the significance of the audience's role in these plays; and how issues of authenticity, fictionality, and dishonesty impact on a genre that depends on illusion.

Some scholars claim that postmodernism has been supplanted by a new structure of feeling, which includes a return to authenticity within theatre. The debate on the succession of postmodernism falls outside the scope of this book – nevertheless, Krüger argues that postmodernism does not entail a rejection of authenticity but an exposé of its impossibility. Postmodernism is therefore very much concerned with authenticity, and any attempt at locating the authentic is therefore not necessarily opposed to postmodernism. Krüger's analysis offers a new interpretation of the three texts, drawing on postmodern and poststructuralist theories, particularly concerning the concept of authenticity within art and language.

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CHAPTER 1: Introduction
CHAPTER 2: Authenticity in literature and theatre
CHAPTER 3: Pinter’s kaleidoscope of Betrayals
CHAPTER 4: Stoppard’s hall of mirrors in The Real Thing
CHAPTER 5: The character as mirage in Marber’s Closer
CHAPTER 6: Conclusion

Cover for Authenticity on the Postmodern Stage: Betrayal, The Real Thing and Closer
December 25, 2018