Review of Rain Man - Darlington Hippodrome
By Andrew Harrison - Arts critic
There have been many adaptations from screen to stage recently, with varying degrees of success. Rain Man is the inaugural production of Bill Kenwright’s Classic Stage to Screen Theatre Company, his previous productions of films to stage include the acclaimed ‘A Few Good Men’ and ‘Twelve Angry Men’ setting up a new theatre company to specialise in this genre must mean there are more to come. On the basis of Rain Man that can only be a good thing for theatre.
Even though it is 30 years since the film came out, it was such an iconic film that it is well remembered for many scenes and the way that autism was depicted. That works in the productions favour as it was easy to settle in with the characters and the plot through that familiarity.
The story follows Charlie, Chris Fountain, who after learning of his father’s death, discovers that the family fortune has been inherited by Raymond, Adam Lilley, the brother he never knew he had. After taking Raymond out of the institution he voluntarily resides in and away from his routines, he goes on a road trip hoping he will get half of the inheritance to return him.
Chris Fountain brilliantly takes us on the journey of selfish car sales man to the loving and caring brother to Raymond, showing the frustration he feels through a lack of understanding to the tender moments where he teaches Raymond to dance. There are some moments which create that uneasy feeling, where audience members laugh at the actions of Adam Lilley as he brings the issues of autism to the stage. Due to the nature of the character of Raymond, the character doesn’t take the same journey as Charlie, but Adam Lilley gives a tremendous performance especially with the empathy shown by Susan, Elizabeth Carter.
The set, designed by Morgan Large, has a background of interlocking empty frames which works well for the many scene changes and although at first the scene changes feel lengthy, with the burst of 80s music they become more reflective as the character of Charlie takes dramatic changes.
If you were thinking about seeing Rain Man you will not be disappointed.
Runs until Saturday 23rd February at Darlington Hippodrome
Monday 8th April – Saturday 13th April at Northern Stage, Newcastle