Rain Man

Malvern Theatres


I'm always a bit wary of theatre shows that are based on best-selling films as they often don't and can't live up to the effects that a movie offers.

They can work if they are adapted well though, in a way that recognises the differences between how to keep action and dialogue moving in live theatre compared to a film screen.

Long-standing theatre producer Bill Kenwright isn't so unsure as this production is from his Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company that focuses on adapting well known films to theatre. It's already done Shawshank Redemption, Twelve Angry Men and The Exorcist.

The team has set its marker high with Rain Man - based on the hugely popular Oscar-winning film starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman that clinched four Academy Awards.

It has been adapted by Dan Gordon and as with most Bill Kenwright productions, it includes a cast of well-known faces from British TV. This time around there's Paul Nicholls (once of EastEnders) and Chris Fountain (of Hollyoaks and Coronation Street), but both have been dabbling in theatre for a while.

During its stint at Malvern, Nicholas had to pull out with sickness for the whole week meaning understudy Adam Lilley stepped into the role made famous by Dustin Hoffman.

It was hard to imagine Lilley in any other part as his performance was superb and distinctive as savant Raymond. His attention to detail made the character totally believable and it reflects on how good he was that I didn't think about Dustin Hoffman once during the 2hour 15 minute performance. 



The story is quintessentially a road movie about the ties that bind family and realising that money can't buy you happiness. It centres around the difficult relationship between self-centred salesman Charlie Babbitt (Fountain) and the autistic brother he never knew he had - Raymond. 

Fountain is a charismatic lead with alluring stage presence. The play is primarily about Charlie's self realisation and personal growth and Fountain's performance provides a real raw emotion throughout.

I said that a good adaptation involves using what works well on stage and although the script and the 1980's music is very close to the film, there's an extra emotional dimension to the closeness of the characters within such a confined space.

The final scene really leaves you feeling totally uplifted.

Directing is Jonathan O'Boyle, who was also behind the UK Tour of the wonderfully slick political comedy This House. He uses a clever yet simple set that keeps the momentum moving in an interesting and animated way, while also making the most of the comedy moments in the plot

It was the characters and relationship that helped make Rain Man as a film so memorable and with two strong leads like Fountain and Lilley, it's no surprise that it has transferred well on to stage too. Catch it while you can. To 09-02-19.

Alison Brinkworth


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