IS this The Real Thing? and how do you tell? is the central question of this piece, as thought-provoking now as when it was written 25 years ago.

Playwright Henry and his actor friends and lovers expose their frailties, depths (or otherwise) of emotions and insecurities, pondering the nature of ‘real’ love.

This excellent entertainment is not simply a comedy of manners and errors: with Stoppard you can never turn your brain off.

Which makes the evening hard going at times, especially when the set design means that many of the characters conduct scenes facing each other across the stage, rather than projecting outwards, so at times some of the lines were a little muffled.

Flora Spencer-Longhurst, playing Annie, who kindles Henry’s lust and then confounds him when he finds it has turned to enduring love, fortunately manages to convey lots of emotion by the set of her shoulders, or whisk of a skirtline.

Laurence Fox was fiery and dynamic as Henry, although he too was a little hard to hear in Act One, and I loved Rebecca Johnson’s waspish delivery as Charlotte and Kit Young’s joyful delight at Billy the kid’s seduction success.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable evening, not least because of the delight of listening to the flow of the speeches and the variety of the language, English used to the best possible dramatic effect – even if Henry’s obsession with finding ‘the right word’ turns out to be one of the problems he has to tackle.

I found the sight of such an erudite character reduced to tongue-tied misery by jealousy and a realisation that maybe this is The Real Thing – and it hurts – very moving.

Even the repeated buzz of badly silenced mobile phones in the auditorium couldn’t spoil that (maybe the theatre need to start running their pre-show turn-them-off pleas, recorded by star names, again?)

The play runs until September 30.