REVIEW: Rain Man @ Darlington Hippodrome

Posted on February 19th 2019 by Whats on Northeast

Review by Amanda Tutin

Tonight I watched Rain Man, which has been brought to life for the stage in the inaugural production by The Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company at Darlington Hippodrome.

Based on the Oscar-winning 1988 film that starred Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man tells the story of Charlie Babbitt, a down on his luck car salesman, and easily hate-able man, receive the news that his father has died. Not left the inheritance he’d been expecting, after meeting with his fathers lawyer, Charlie soon learns of a brother he didn’t know he had.

Raymond Babbitt, and older brother of Charlie, is a severely autistic man residing voluntarily in an institution for his own care. That is until his new found brother Charlie signs him out under the pretence of getting to know his new sibling. When in actual fact, he just wants half of the inheritance that his late father has left Raymond, all $1.5m.

The brothers, together in their late fathers Buick, drive across the country and end up in Vegas where Charlie selfishly persuades Raymond to count cards for him and wins enough money to buy himself out of the dire financial hole he’s dug himself into due to a dodgy car deal.

Predominantly a drama, there were some elements of comedy that made me question whether I should be laughing or not, and a lot of heartwarming moments as both Raymond and Charlie learn a lot about themselves.

The concept of the car ride, which was a pivotal section of the film, was absent as the scenes on stage skipped over the journey and focussed on the individual destinations that broke up the car ride.

The set designs were very basic with a lot of scene transitions and set moves, but I did really like the interlocking picture frames and lights of the stage background. Oh, and the accompanying 1980s hits provided the flashbacks and chance to sing along as stagehands wheeled on beds and door frames.

The characters were played well, to the point where I felt angry at how Charlie (Chris Fountain) was being his usual abrasive self and found it hard to have any sympathy with the character as Chris played him so well. But I felt emotionally drawn in with Adam Lilley’s portrayal of Raymond and his severe, high-functioning autism, complete with his physical ticks and verbal responses to anything out of his comfort zone. It was hard not to feel bad for Charlies girlfriend and secretary, Susan.

Elizabeth Carter played Susan well. Susan was sweet with Raymond but a little naive with her relationship with Charlie and was right to feel bad about the situation he’d put her in with Raymond.

The first act really set the scene and following the interval, things slowed down and provided some really tender and emotional moments as both Raymond and Charlie learnt more about themselves.

There were a couple of scenes that felt a little stiff and could’ve been more concise but overall, it was very enjoyable, emotive and I would definitely recommend going to Darlington Hippodrome to see the show. Rain Man runs from the 18th to 23rd February.

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