REVIEW: Rain Man @ Northern Stage

Posted on April 13th 2019 by Whats on Northeast

Review by Andrew Bramfitt

A long time favourite 80’s movie gets the stage treatment and is even better than the original.

The story of Charlie Babbitt, wannabe big shot luxury car dealer and his brother Raymond is as classic and timeless as the 80s soundtrack that accompanies this Classic Screen to Stage production. Charlie (played by Chris Fountain with great frustration, a big ego an even bigger chip on his shoulder) is desperate to raise some cash to head off the loan sharks and save his failing business.  All he cares about is himself, so when his estranged father dies, he expects to inherit the family fortune and all his worries will be gone.  Sadly (for him) the estate is left to a 3rd person, someone whom Charlie has never known existed yet has been linked to all is life – his brother Raymond.

Raymond is a savant, initially ‘held’ in an institution by a doctor who believes that isolation is the only way to protect Raymond from the world.  Adam Lilley plays Raymond and, if Dustin Hoffman received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, then Adam should equally be feted in acclaim and awards.  His portrayal of Ray is both sensitive and dynamic, immediately exposing the vulnerability of someone for whom the world is a confusing and scary place and yet, throughout, he bestows Ray with a strength of not needing to conform.

Through an attempt to get access to the family fortune by taking Raymond on a road trip, Charlie realises that life has far more purpose when you care about someone other than yourself.

Backed by some innovative set design, wonderful use of 80’s pop music and great pacing this transfer from screen to stage makes for a brilliant evening.  Northern Stage, with its wide stage, very comfy seats and great hospitality is an ideal venue for a night out.

5 stars

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