Rain Man @ His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen – Duncan Harley Reviews

Outwardly this is a reassuringly familiar story. Rain Man the play presents as a stage remake of the familiar Hollywood blockbuster and as such is a fairly easy watch. Many of the old lines are present and thirty odd years on they still raise a wry smile or two, but only just. Times have moved on after all and Morrow and Bass’s take on autism has been somewhat dwarfed by the likes of Curious Incident and TV drama such as Autism Every Day.

In any case, Rain Man’s Raymond is in a segment of the autistic spectrum not inhabited by many. As a savant, he is blessed – if that indeed is the correct term – with extraordinary abilities which set him apart from most.

Card counting is one of his skills and brother Charlie Babbitt – Chris Fountain, quickly exploits this ability to ‘win a shitload of money’ from a Vegas casino. Raymond can also read and memorise two books simultaneously and recall every word. He can memorise entire telephone directories and the list goes on.
The downside is that both order and routine are essential to his emotional well-being so when brother Charlie removes Raymond from his institution and subjects him to a wild road trip all does not go completely to plan.

Even the buying of underwear has its problems. Raymond only buys from the Cincinnati branch of K-Mart and by the time fresh pants for Raymond become something of an issue the Babbitt brothers are holed up in a Las Vegas hotel.
‘What difference does it make where you buy underwear? … underwear is underwear! It’s underwear wherever you buy it! in Cincinnati or wherever!’ shouts Charlie to which Raymond insistently replies ‘Boxer shorts K-Mart, 700 Main Street Cincinnati’.

‘Am I using you Raymond?’ asks Charlie at one point during the road trip. ‘Yeah’ replies Raymond who is in fact replying to a question asked of him some thirty minutes ago.

With an admirably simple set and scene changes curtained by a dozen or so familiar 80’s hits the focus, as it should be, is fully on the tale of the evolving relationship between the brothers. At points painfully cruel, at times poignant and emotional the story is a tearjerker and with heart.

Both Babbitts - Chris Fountain’s Charlie and Adam Lilley’s Raymond – have chemistry and work well together. Charlie is of course appropriately easy to hate. But then, Raymond also has major issues and when, somewhere along that road to Damascus, a measure of brotherly love puts in an appearance it is difficult to hold back a tear or two.

Of course, the original screenplay broke new ground and some would claim that it brought the issue of autism into the light for all to see. But hey, that was then and this is now. The public recognition and understanding of the autistic spectrum has shifted a gear and, given that the spectral savant population is in a distinct minority, Rain Man might well be needing a modern twist to make it more acceptable in a more enlightened century.

But, in the main, this is a decent piece of entertainment and an occasional tearjerker to boot.

Stars: 3/5
Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle and original story by Barry Morrow
Rain Man plays until Saturday 6 April


Popular posts from this blog

North East Scotland At War – by Alan Stewart

The Scottish Samurai Awards 2018 – By Duncan Harley

Leopards for Swans @ Aberdeen – by Duncan Harley

Stone Stacks down by the Don – By Duncan Harley

The Carron To Mumbai – by Duncan Harley

The Shell Hoosie @ Dunnottar Woods

Bells @ Stonehaven - by Duncan Harley

The Cruise of the Land-Yacht Wanderer

Smokey Joe

The Lido @ Tarlair - by Duncan Harley