Rain Man at the Arts Theatre
Until 13 October.
The idea of translating movies into theatre might seem like a foolish one: how can the visual landscape of the big screen be reduced down to a small stage with live 3-D actors? In the case of Rain Man, the result is an undoubted triumph. Yes, the stage adaptation of the late 80s road movie starring Dustin Hoffman, contains no road but it does what theatre can do so well – forensically examine human relationships. This is a story of two estranged brothers – one a fast-talking hard-nosed business chancer, the other an institutionalised man struggling with severe autism who can only talk in parrot-like phrases learned from TV adverts or dry instruction manuals. Matthew Horne (formerly Gavin or Gavin and Stacey) is outstanding as the stricken Raymond overpowered by verbal and facial tics and a deep fear of being touched. Ed Speleers is a perfect foil as Charlie, the hard bastard who never knew he had any sibling until the death of their father. Miles apart in every way, the two go on a road journey to Las Vegas and in doing so find a way to become brothers for the first time. It is a story of discovered love.
With a jazzy, neon-lit Mondrian-like set and some wonderfully choreographed scene changes, the pace is rapid and the exposition sometimes shocking – Charlie morphs from hateful manipulator who only sees $ signs in Raymond (who has been left his father’s millions), to someone who learns what it is to be a brother. This is a deeply moving play – yes, a play and no longer simply a movie.