Rain Man Brings Sunshine To Leeds Grand
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Strip away the versatility and sheer expanse of cinema and it takes large performances to fill a stage, especially when the movie you are seeking to emulate won four Oscars and featured two of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman were the two stars of 1988’s Rain Man, leaving Ed Speleers and Mathew Horne as Charlie and Raymond Babbitt, with considerable shoes to fill.
But I was left with no doubts at the end of this highly entertaining, beautifully scripted and well-directed piece of theatre, largely driven by the two main protagonists, Speleers as the self-centred wheeler-dealer brother
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Rain Man tells the story of selfish yuppie Charlie, estranged from his father since the age of 16. Self-centred, angry and with a huge sense of entitlement, he discovers that his father has died and bequeathed all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son, Raymond, of whose existence Charlie was unaware. He is left with only his father's car – the original cause of their split - and a collection of rose bushes.
At first Charlie is merely intent on taking custody of his brother for material gain – to try and get his hands on half of the $3m fortune bequeathed to his older sibling, but as their relationship develops and he comes to realise that this is his brother, not a car to be traded, a relationship starts to develop.
This is a touching production that really concentrates on the relationship between the two brothers, because in many ways it has no other choice with less than two hours of playing time. The Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company, the people behind Rain Man, have, no doubt realised, that the stage version could never be the movie.
When Charlie realises his brother has an amazing talent for numbers and would be exceptional at card counting in the casinos of Las Vegas, it is a great scene in the film, but the stage show left much more to the imagination, as theatre should. We merely saw the two actors, each holding roulette chips on a tray at the end of their casino triumph, to tell us that their Las Vegas outing had been a success.
The plot kept moving, cleverly aided by simple backdrops and 1980’s music helping to concertina the storyline.
The doctor looking after Raymond says of Charlie’s brother, ‘he is incapable of forgetting.’ This is a show that will stay in my memory for a long time to come and is highly worthwhile.
Until Saturday 3rd November 2018, Leeds Grand
Rain Man Brings Sunshine To Leeds Grand, 30th October 2018, 11:27 AM