"I think Stoppard is a brilliant playwright," Barry said. "I've wanted to direct one of his plays for ages, ever since I first saw a wonderful production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. I saw The Real Inspector Hound, Arcadia and Shakespeare in Love, then read all his plays and his biography.
"When I read The Real Thing, I immediately knew it was a play I would love to direct. If you love theatre, you have to love this play because it's brilliantly written and constructed. Not only is it one of the great plays ever written about love but it's also one of the greatest ever written about writing, creativity, playmaking and performing plays.
"The Real Thing is full of layers and links and cleverly interwoven themes and ideas. Scenes replay themselves in subtly different ways and dialogue is repeated by different characters in different situations. It's so witty, intelligent, skillful and taut – and deeply emotional at times, too."
"It's challenging for the actors, who have to play roles within roles, and it's certainly going to challenge the audience," he said. "At times we see actors who are rehearsing plays they are about to perform.
"At other times, the plays-within-the-play seem so real that it's difficult for the audience to know if they're watching a play or the real thing. But that's the delight of this show – it's Stoppard playing with the audience in his typically delightful post-modern way."
"Given Charlotte's strong, opinionated nature, it was probably this strength of character and her sharp wit that Henry probably found initially attractive – but it may also play a part in the destruction of their relationship. She is seemingly quite high maintenance as a partner and doesn't mind telling Henry about his frailties and flaws."
The main challenge for Maree is to play Charlotte as a strong personality without portraying her as too harsh.
"She still needs to be a likeable character and needs to show her enjoyment when she is involved in conversations and situations with Henry," she said. "Thanks to Stoppard, Charlotte is a lot of fun – she has some wonderful comebacks and very clever observations of the real world."
The Real Thing plays at 7.30pm June 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, July 2, 3 and 4 with 2pm matinees June 21 and 28. Tickets are $22, $20 concession – book at www.grads.org.au.
Stirling Theatre is at 25 Morris Place, Innaloo.