Bill Kenwright presents the inaugural Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company with a production of Rain Man, based on the award-winning film of the same name, which premiered at Leeds Grand Theatre last night and will run until Saturday November 3rd. Grab tickets whilst you can.
Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise star in the original film script and that is a tough act to follow, but Matthew Horne and Ed Speelers did an excellent job. Not one part did I see a phone come out from a bored and unenthusiastic audience member, which makes a delightful change. Packed with drama, development and dangerously funny scenes, this stage play is not worth missing. Sex, prescribed drugs and counting cards, Rain Man is the story about Charlie Babbitt, who discovers that he has a long-lost older brother, Raymond, who has inherited the family multimillion dollar fortune. Determined to get fair share, he sets out on a journey to “bond” with his brother. Raymond is an autistic savant and has a remarkable memory and a genius for numbers, to which Charlie takes full advantage. As the two brothers embark on a trip across America, Charlie’s self-centred heart begins to change, realising that his brother, his only family, is worth more than all the $$$ in Vegas.
Matthew Horne (Raymond) and Ed Speelers (Charlie) were memorizing on stage. It was difficult not to drool over Ed in a specific screen. Their portrayal of their characters was to the highest standard and I hope they get the recognition they deserve. On opening night they achieved a well-deserved standing ovation. Both characters demanded a lot of energy, which they both held throughout. Those energetic levels never dropped which is always impressive. Horne’s depiction of autism, or someone with a lot of issues that make them unable to take of themselves or comprehend basic human emotions, was interesting to watch. He was vulnerable yet powerful, funny yet saddening, hopeful and then hopeless.
There are a lot of scene changes, which can usually be distracting and disrupt the flow of the play. However, the dynamic, recognisable music played in between keeps the audience alive and excited for the next scene. Like in a film, the stage changes felt like a scene cut, simply moving the story along. The set design was bright, fun and helped distinguish where the characters were. Travelling across America, there are scenes in airports, motels, offices, bedrooms, waiting rooms and even Las Vegas; each scene was clear.
The only issues was the sound – which could be the fault of the Grand. Luckily, I was sat at towards in the Stalls but I wouldn’t have liked to be at the back as I would fear I wouldn’t be able to hear anything. I do not believe the actors had microphones on, I would change this because even in the stalls their voices didn’t carry and some words were lost. There was also a very annoying static sound, at the first part of the second act. Again, something small but it does affect how you hear the actors (I couldn’t)
However, with a heart-touching ending, this play has a strong chance to be an excellent adaptation. I recommended seeing it – seat prices are not expensive, especially compared to a lot of shows I am seeing out there so get yourself out to see a classic re-made for the stage.