Rain Man is the inaugural production of The Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company and follows a line of successful screen to stage productions from producer Bill Kenwright including A Few Good Men, The Shawshank Redemption and Twelve Angry Men. Previous performances have starred an array of critically acclaimed actors including Martin Shaw, Rob Lowe and Suranne Jones.
Most will know Rain Man as the Academy Award winning movie starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. Released in 1988, the film was directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. Morrow created the character of Raymond having met Kim Peek, who, although not autistic, was born with an encephalode (a large blister on the back of his head). Kim’s parents were told he should be in an institution, but they rejected this advice, and, by the age of 18 months, Kim could memorise any book read to him only once. He attained all high school requirements by age fourteen and had an encyclopedic knowledge in a range of subjects, from History to Classical Music. However, Kim couldn’t walk until he was four and had difficulty with tasks such as washing and dressing.
Rain Man tells the story of self-centered car salesman Charlie Babbitt (portrayed wonderfully by Chris Fountain who is the perfect mix of arrogant yet somehow likeable). Charlie one day receives the news that his estranged father has passed away and left him nothing but an old car and a collection of rose bushes! Charlie later learns his father’s three-million-dollar estate has been left to a mystery beneficiary. After a flurry of bad language, sarcasm and rage, he unearths that the beneficiary is, in fact, a brother he never knew he had; autistic savant Raymond.
The role of Raymond was due to be played by Paul Nicholls (EastEnders, Hustle, City Central). Unfortunately, the week before the production hit the venue, it was advertised that, due to illness, Mr. Nicholls would be unable to play the role at Theatr Clwyd. A disappointment to fans I’m sure, however, Adam Lilley, who stepped into the role, most certainly doesn’t disappoint. Lilley’s portrayal of Raymond is faultless throughout; he perfectly captures the essence of the reality of high functioning autism and his delivery of Raymond’s savant skills provide for many moments of humour contrasting with the sadness of his situation. Not only does he deliver the dialogue with fantastic timing and ease, his physical portrayal is so seemingly effortless and consistent.
The set design is simple yet effective and makes great use of varying effects including back drops, flying, trucks and easy to move furniture and props. During scene changes we hear a fitting 80s soundtrack played on high volume; perhaps purposeful, it creates with the audience a sense of hypersensitive hearing often associated with autism. The 80s theme continues throughout with fabulous costumes harking back to the era and plenty of neon lights and references to TV shows and celebrities of the decade.
Whether or not you are aware of the movie, this production cannot be recommended highly enough, mainly for its two male leads for whom it is wholly worth booking tickets. The cast and the production are superb, but it is their stand out performances as two unlikely brothers which set the stage, and the story, alight. Rain Man plays at Theatr Clwyd, Mold until Saturday March 2nd, 2019 and goes on to play at several venues across the UK, finishing in Weston-Super-Mare between April 15th and April 20th, 2019.
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
February 25th-March 2nd, 2019
Writer: Dan Gordon
Director: Jonathan O’Boyle
Designer: Morgan Large
Lighting Designer: Jack Weir
Sound Designer: Dan Samson
Cast includes Chris Fountain, Elizabeth Carter, Mairi Barclay, Adam Lilley, Dominic Taylor, Joe Sellman Leava, Hannah Barker, Joshua Diffley
Unfortunately, due to illness, Paul Nicholls is unable to perform in Rain Man at Theatr Clwyd from February 25th to March 2nd, 2019. The role of Raymond Babbitt is played by Adam Lilley.