Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: Rain Man – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 23 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 23 Oct, 2018

By Ferenc Hepp

Rain Man, starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, was the highest grossing film of 1988.

This week The Classic Screen To Stage Theatre Company bring their touring production to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

The story is about a young car dealer, Charlie Babitt, who will do or say anything to make money, and who discovers that his father passed away and only left him his old car and collection of rose bushes.

The inheritance of three million dollars was all left in a trust fund for his estranged autistic savant brother, Raymond, who Charlie finds in an institution cared for by Dr Bruener and his team. He takes Raymond under his wing, initially just to secure his share of the inheritance, but the dynamic between them changes as they go on a journey of discovery.

Mathew Horne (Raymond) & Ed Speleers (Charlie) – Photo Robert Day

Ed Speleers makes his stage debut as Charlie, having starred in the highly successful Downton Abbey, and Mathew Horne (The Catherine Tate Show and Gavin & Stacey) takes on the role of Raymond. Direction is by Jonathan O’Boyle and the production is designed by Morgan Large.

Large’s design is relatively simple with only a few bits of furniture being taken on and off to represent the various settings, the colour scheme is various shades of 1980’s brown with the same backdrop apart from a few signs, but it does the job perfectly well.

…an acting master class by Speleers and Horne, leaving us mesmerised, laughing, and sometimes in tears…

O’Boyle’s direction is slick, naturalistic and fast-paced. The leading actors are very ably supported by Elizabeth Carter who plays Charlie’s fiancee, Susan, Neil Roberts as Dr Bruener and Adam Lilley as the attorney and as Dr Marston who advises Dr Bruener about Raymond’s future. The cast is completed by Mairi Barclay, Joe Sellman Leava and Hannah Barker.

Charlie teaching Raymond to dance – Photo Robert Dat

The journey on which Charlie and Raymond embark after discovering each other is a geographical adventure; the way we see their relationship develop during their time together, an emotional roller coaster, beautifully portrayed by Speleers and Horne.

A couple of highlights along the way include the interaction between the two in a motel where Charlie discovers that Raymond was at the house when their mother died and Raymond was, in fact, his “imaginary” friend who he called “Rain Man”, and a very touching moment in a Las Vegas hotel room where Charlie teaches Raymond how to dance.

The dynamic of their relationship changes from an abusive Charlie only interested in his share of the inheritance, to him bonding with and showing brotherly love and affection towards Raymond, even being allowed to almost hug him which has been previously unheard of in his institutionalised life.

Eventually Charlie proclaims that “I made a connection” and the way we see this develop throughout the piece is an acting master class by Speleers and Horne, leaving us mesmerised, laughing, and sometimes in tears with a rather emotional ending.

Part of the programme notes suggests, “the secret to successful adaptation, in either direction, lies in making the new creation look like it’s always belonged there”. This production has completely achieved this objective.  

Rain Man runs until Saturday 27 October and tickets are available via the website:, or by calling the box office on; 01483 440000.

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