THEATRE REVIEW: Rain Man ★★★
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Tuesday 23rd - Saturday 27th April 2019
Based on the 1988 film starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, this theatrical vision starring Chris Fountain as self-absorbed Charlie Babbitt and Adam Lilley as his autistic but mathematical genius brother Raymond is a slick acted but rough transitioned production that ultimately leaves you with a warmer heart, if not having a new appreciation for those on the spectrum.
With the tale centering around Charlie determined to get his half of the inheritance, which is left all to his brother, Chris and Adam's persona's work impeccably on stage which paves way for a real friendship developing on stage. Though Fountains strong accent and movement at the beginning feels harsh and abrupt compared to the more naturalistic ensemble on stage, by the time the production draws to a close, this whole manifesto is stripped back and you come to figure Fountain for his former attributes.
Adam Lilley, having taken over from Paul Nicholls for the latter stage of the tour, is utterly mesmerising but equally will break your heart with scenes that find him getting ready to go on a date, his first kiss, and a stunning dance which will constantly toy with your emotions as Lilley completely captures and absorbs the stage to his advantage. Jonathan O'Boyle has managed to capture a true chemistry in his direction of this piece, which with Charlie's girlfriend Susan (Elizabeth Carter) added into the mix, it's a joy to watch and feel apart of a story with true heart at the centre.
What hinders the production most though is its setting up of the initial encounter of the brothers, which comes across as a tedious and drawn out motion, until the point where Charlie breaks his brother out and gets a bedsit where the story really moves along at speed from this development. Scene transitions also drag down the energy down, especially in the second act flowing into the casino, which leaves an empty stage to sit through for a long duration, slowly seeping the illusion off the stage and from our engagement.
Overall, Rain Man gives the space for Chris Fountain and Adam Lilley to shine brightly on stage with a real passion and dedication towards their characters after slow start, and will leave you with a new outlook on those who may be different, ultimately showing that no matter what your beliefs are or how you were brought up, the most precious and important trait you can give to someone is kindness.