Based on the Oscar winning motion picture which famously starred Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.
New Theatre, Cardiff’s autumn season features a host of big names and opened on the 10th September with the Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company production of Rain Man.
Starring Mathew Horne, best known for playing Gavin in the multi award winning BBC comedy series Gavin and Stacey and Ed Speleers from ITV’s Golden Globe winning period drama Downtown Abbey.
The Rain Man narrative centres itself around Charlie Babbitt (Ed Speleers) discovering that his estranged father has left his $3 million fortune to a secret beneficiary. Unhappy with the news, Charlie goes searching for the trustee, leading him to Walbrook Mental Institute where he learns of his numerically gifted yet autistic brother Ray (Mathew Horne).
At Walbrook, Ray is set in a daily routine which when disrupted can become problematic to those around him. Charlie decides to take him away from Walbrook and use him as a bargaining tool to claim his ‘rightful’ half of the $3 million, thus starting a brothers trip across America and a journey of unconditional love.
It’s very hard watching Mathew Horne in any other role since he climbed to fame as Gavin from Gavin and Stacey, but, his performance as Ray makes you completely forget about his previous roles. You find yourself glued to his every move from start to finish.
The sheer density of the script must have been a challenge in itself to remember – Horne’s delivery was equally as impressive. Every tick, every quick quip and all the numerical stats he blurted out had you constantly wanting more. On occasions there were times I felt bad for laughing as I couldn’t distinguish if I was laughing at him or with him but that doesn’t take away from a great performance.
Ed Speleers took you on an journey of emotions from the very beginning to the very last scene. His theatre debut was nothing less than fantastic, he moved the narrative along and changed your perspective of him with every scene. From borderline hatred at first to a sense of empathy toward the final third.
The scene where Charlie taught Ray to dance was a key turning point, it was the first time you didn’t get the cocky business man looking for his half of the $3 million Charlie but the Ray’s brother Charlie. You found yourself overwhelmed with emotion as the money didn’t matter for those few minutes, the most important thing in the world was helping Ray.
I’d challenge anyone to see the production and find a dry eye when this scene takes place.
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Recently the New Theatre Cardiff has been voted Wales’ most welcoming theatre for the second year in a row!