Screen to stage adaptations so often work because the material has been well established, and this adaptation of the Barry Levinson’s hit 1988 movie Rain Man that secured an Oscar for Dustin Hoffman, is no exception.
This tour began its journey at The Theatre Royal, Windsor and it is now completing the tour back to where it began, but it was a full audience nevertheless.
The two main characters performances are superb. Charlie, played by Chris Fountain and Raymond –Adam Lilley have such robust connection and chemistry. They each make the role their own without trying to mimic Hoffman and Cruise, and it works a treat.
The story follows Charlie, a self-centred, coarse; wide-boy who has a humungous-sized chip on his shoulder when he discovers that his father has left his 3 million pound estate to his estranged, autistic brother, Raymond, whose life is full of regiments and routines, living in an institution.
Charlie snatches Raymond and they head off on a road-trip. The difference between the two brothers is stark and Charlie is clueless how to handle Raymond’s condition. But by the end, Charlie, perhaps for the first time in his life, learns how to love, and the two share some tender, moving moments that are skilfully handled. Charlie’s transition from self-serving hard heart to understanding and caring brother is wonderfully realised - so to Raymond’s need for 'loving' not just cared attention.
It is the 1980s and the renowned style and music of the era features, but not in an overwhelming way that detracts from the story. There are many scene changes, but these are neatly and swiftly managed with aptly chosen 1980s songs to cover them. The set design is clever as it 'evokes' the period and ensures scene changes don't slow the pace of the play but stick true to the road movie bases of the film.
All the actors’ performances deserve commendation but Dr Bruener (Dominic Taylor) had faultless, clever timing with natural guise.
The two leads were exceptional in their profound and thoughtful interpretation. Phenomenal, honest, first-rate portrayals.
I did at times feel discomfort at Raymond’s autism being a subject of comedy. Thankfully, times have drastically moved on since the 1980s and hopefully audiences can see Raymond as endearing rather than comical.
Overall, an excellent production that was superbly and tenderly performed. Well-deserving of its standing ovation.