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First Published Wednesday, 1st October, 2008.

Apollo Theatre, London(bystanders unknown)

REVIEW: RAIN MAN ONSTAGE … UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT


The Apollo, with its 107 year old history is unquestionably the perfect setting for a drama such as Rain Man. The smallest of the playhouses on Shaftesbury Avenue, it offers an intimate, elegant setting to those both treading the boards and its ‘hopefully’ enraptured audiences.


The question is “Did Rain Man Enrapture?” Dan Gordon bravely chose to adapt this award-winning film for the theatre stage, and his contemporary approach, complete with updated references to ‘knowing someone on the spectrum’ etc were refreshing, while maintaining the movie’s best lines. Despite his efforts, some have described the script as ‘lacklustre’. Personally, I am willing to overlook any script flaws in this instance for the chance to have viewed Olivier-nominated actor, Adam Godley’s undeniably outstanding performance as Raymond. His interpretation of the rare savant character was impeccable and the NAS assuredly deserves an honourable mention for any assistance that may have led to Godley ‘getting it right’ for ‘getting it right’ he assuredly did! The standing ovation at journey’s end said it all. Godley’s monotone vocals, conveyance of dependence on routine and detailed mannerisms were flawless. Godley invoked emotions I had not expected to feel during this viewing and it was clear that the audience as a whole were moved.

Rain Man Poster, Apollo Theatre
Surprisingly comedic moments, perfectly timed, courtesy of Godley’s enthralling performance cemented for me what was an enchanting portrayal. Raymond’s mimicry and recall of his brother’s expletives, unexpectedly unleashed with utter gusto and complete relevance to questions posed by the clinicians saw the theatre erupting with laughter on more than one occasion.

Josh Hartnett may perhaps be forgiven for his generally awkward portrayal considering he is treading those boards for the first time in this, his West End debut. It has been written “what are clearly intended to be pregnant pauses are so empty of emotion it seems more as though Hartnett has just forgotten his lines.” The opening scene’s awkward, seemingly apologetic pause, directly before Hartnett’s expletive-filled dialogue erupted, may well improve given time as Hartnett makes the role of Charlie his own. Flow of dialogue certainly requires improvement under Terry Johnson’s direction.


I found myself missing the road scenes and accompanying American landscape that could have, perhaps should have been upheld. I believe a car would have added elegance and credibility to the play’s notably sparse sets. Clearly the choice was to keep detail on set to a minimum, to let the focus be on that of the relationship of the two brothers. However, for a journey such as this to be fully appreciated, given the storyline, a vision of the road travelled could only have enhanced the experience in my humble opinion. On a positive note, the sliding nature of the sets and arty framing of the brothers at play’s end, was memorable.


Adam Godley deserves an award for his superlative performance while Josh is sure to improve on each and every performance, and let’s face it, commitment to the role coupled with a presence on stage that commands attention are an asset in Theatreland!


Date of Viewing: Saturday, 13th September, 2008, at 7.30p,

Running Time: 2 Hours 20 minutes with one interval

Rating: 3/5


Actor’s Profiles

Josh Hartnett

JOSH HARTNETT

Charlie Babbitt



Josh was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. He first came to audiences’ attention in the television series Cracker.


Film includes: his feature film debut in 1988, in the Miramax film Halloween: H20. The same year, he starred in the Robert Rodriguez directed film The Faculty. The following year he starred in the Sofia Coppola black comedy The Virgin Suicides. In 2001, Josh hit a stride by starring in three features. He portrayed the antagonist in the Lionsgate film O, a modern day version of Othello, and followed with a role in the Jerry Bruckheimer film Pearl Harbor. He then starred in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and in 2002 the National Theater Owners awarded him the ShoWest Male Star of Tomorrow Award. He also starred in MGM’s Wicker Park, Miramax’s Sin City, again with Robert Rodriguez, and Mozart and the Whale, written by Ron Bass. In 2006, he starred opposite Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley in Lucky Number Slevin and in Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia. In 2007, Josh starred in Resurrecting the Champ and 30 Days of Night. Most recently he was seen in the film August. Two films to be released next year are I Come with the Rain, directed by Tran Anh Hung, and Bunraku, directed by Guy Moshe. Additional film credits include Hollywood Homicide, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Blow Dry, Town and Country, and Here on Earth.

Adam Godley

ADAM GODLEY

Raymond Babbitt



Theatre includes: the title role in Paul directed by Howard Davies, Two Thousand Years directed by Mike Leigh, The Pillowman directed by John Crowley(NT), Private Lives directed by Howard Davies (Albery/Richard Rodgers, New York, Theatre World Award), Mouth to Mouth directed by Ian Rickson (Royal Court, Olivier Award nomination), The CriticMr KolpertThe Importance of Being Earnest directed by Christopher Morahan (Chichester/Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Cleo, Camping … directed by Terry Johnson (NT, Olivier Award nomination), The Front Page and Cabaret both directed by Sam Mendes (Donmar Warehouse), The General from America directed by Howard Davies, The White Devil directed by Gale Edwards, The Three Hours After the Marriage directed by Richard Cotterell (Chichester/Albery), A Going Concern directed by Matthew Lloyd (Hampstead), Mr A’s Amazing Maze Plays directed by Alan Ayckboourn (NT), June Moon directed by Alan Strachan (Hampstead/Vaudeville), The Revenger’s Comedies directed by Alan Ayckbourn (Strand) and Zero Hour, a one-man show based on the life and work of the poet David Gascoyne (Edinburgh Festival). directed by Richard Wilson (Royal Court).


Film includes: Salomaybe directed by Al Pacino, X-Files: I Want to Believe directed by Chris Carter, Elizabeth: The Golden Age directed by Shekhar Kapur, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by Tim Burton, Nanny McPhee directed by Kirk Jones, Thunderpants directed by Peter Hewitt, Around the World in 80 Days directed by Frank Coraci, Love ActuallyAnd Now Ladies and Gentleman directed by Claude Lelouche and Son of Rambow directed by Garth Jennings.


Television includes: Madmen, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Breaking Bad, The Old Curiosity Shop, In the Dark, Nuremburg: Nazis on Trial, Hawking, The Young Visitors, Margery and Gladys, Sword of Honour, An Ungentlemanly Act and Moonfleet.

Additional Information


The programme notes provide explanations of Autism courtesy of Jane Asher, NAS president, while a section entitled “Autism Perspectives”(details as posted below) profiles the lives of two men on the spectrum. The NAS campaign “think differently about autism – Autism also affects adults” is promoted across the back cover. http://www.think-differently.org.uk/campaign/


AUTISM PERSPECTIVES


NOEL BANNON(written by his support worker, Jane McCallum)


Noel Bannon is 20 and has been at the NAS Daldorch House School in Scotland since 2000. He spent seven years on the junior campus and has recently made a transition to the senior campus where he currently lives. Noel goes to a variety of sessions at the continuing education centre and takes part in a wide range of activities within the community.


Noel has a diagnosis of autism and has complex needs. Every day presents new challenges to him, including seasonal changes, physical development and difficulties with communication. Providing structure for Noel enables him to make choices about what he does each day and to live with increased independence.


Noel’s parents say that his attendance at the school has been the key to unlocking his potential. There, Noel can manage his anxieties in a positive way and his personality has developed to reveal a young man with a great sense of humour and a lot to contribute.


Noel uses a complex system of communication called motoric communication – leading staff to what he wants – as well as sign-a-long (a signing system), his own signs and also some words to communicate what he wants and needs.


ALY GYNN, Bury St Edmunds

My name is Aly Gynn. I am 46 years old and was formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome last year. I actually ‘self diagnosed’ three years previously to this when I was teaching adults with autism and had a ‘light bulb’ moment. Throughout my teaching career I had periods of depression. I pushed myself too hard and worried intensely about my pupils, sometimes to the point of breakdown. I now attribute this to my Asperger’s. Despite having the support of my homeopath, friends and family and a good GP, getting a diagnosis was an exhausting process. I struggled to convince them that I had autism because I didn’t match their preconceived ideas of the disability. I think they felt that I had managed in life thus far, but I needed to know how to cope.


Receiving the diagnosis felt like ‘the last piece of the jigsaw’, but I was frightened of things becoming concrete. I was genuinely shocked to discover that people didn’t think like me, weren’t preoccupied by the same things and didn’t experience the same sensory issues – I find the sound of pans banging together painful.


I have now learned what is good for my health and concentrate on my creative work. My work is me. It’s a comfort to have it around me in my flat: my musical instruments, technology, personalised furniture from the dump, and my ‘Slonytechs’ (sculptures from my MA in Fine Art). Books and books of my poetry and a ‘running tap of words’ also surround me. Sometimes words come too quickly and I have to write things down on any piece of paper to hand. I have done some performance work, but my written work feels safer. I can’t play games or pretend not to be me.


I love doing new things and meeting compassionate, warm and exceptionally lovely people but it can be tiring and the reflection process afterwards is not a luxury but a necessity. I absorb everything like a sponge in five or six different dimensions, so when I have a big day, I need to get back to a routine to settle myself down because I don’t let go of things like other people do.


I am keen as mustard to contribute to and participate in future discussions about the complexity, and our growing understanding, of autism. Future discussions may need some new words. I like the word “Evinceability’. I kind of know what I think it means and I kind of think I know what it means. There is no tangible definition of my made up word. Yet. Terms such as ‘mild’ and ‘severe’, in the context, have proven to be valuable as our premise for understanding of the spectrum. Perhaps, though, they may prove to be best suited to weather reports and … mustard!

What’s It All About?

Charlie Babbitt is a self-centred car dealer in Los Angeles, who is at war with his own life.


When his father dies, Charlie inherits a car and some rose bushes but no money. Hot on the trail of the cash, Charlie discovers an unknown autistic brother, Raymond, who has an extraordinary talent for numbers.


Intent on saving his business, Charlie takes Raymond on a rollercoaster journey involving Las Vegas, gambling, learning to dance and kissing.


Raymond discovers a world beyond the hospital gates and Charlie, the meaning of unconditional love.


Further Reviews



“Rain Man is a wash out”:

http://www.metro.co.uk/metrolife/article.html?Rain_Man_is_a_wash_out&in_article_id=318107&in_page_id=9



What’s On Stage Review “Rain Man”:

http://www.whatsonstage.com/index.php?pg=207&story=E8821222074617&title=Rain+Man



“Entertainment Weekly Stage Review”:

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20228446,00.html



“Guardian Review”:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2008/sep/20/theatre1



“The Stage / Reviews/ Rain Man”:

http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/21816/rain-man



This is London “Rain Man rising above the erotic”:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/show-23574388-details/Rain+Man/showReview.do?reviewId=23558559



“Giorgio Armani for Rain Man”:

http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/daily/080923-giorgio-armani-for-rain-man.aspx



“Rain Man Onstage: Stage Electrics”:

http://etnow.com/news/2008/9/rain-man-on-stage



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