Rain Man, Theatre Royal Bath

FORTUNATE audiences at Bath this week have the chance to see a remarkable performance in the stage adaptation of the film Rain Man – and it’s all the more remarkable as it’s given by an actor who knew the role of Raymond Babbitt backwards, but must have thought he’d never get the chance to play it.

Andrew Lilley was cast in two minor roles in the newly-formed Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company production, understudying Paul Nicholls who was playing the savant brother Raymond Babbitt (an Oscar-winning turn for Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 film).  Owing to illness, Nicholls pulled out and was replaced by Matthew Horne, who also had to withdraw after the programme was printed.  Adam Lilley had his chance.

And he is simply magnificent, well deserving his standing ovation in Bath. The actor, who also understudied King George VI in The King’s Speech, gives a funny, heartbreaking, perfectly observed performance as the “secret” brother of bombastic and selfish car salesman and hustler Charlie Babbitt.

The film, which also starred Tom Cruise, brought autism to a wide audience. Dan Gordon’s stage adaptation faithfully retains the iconic moments of the film. The stylish and versatile setting by Morgan Large, and the evocative  pop soundtrack, transport the audience back to the 80s, and what it misses in cinematic scale it more than gains in the intimacy of the theatre.

Chris Fountain’s high-energy performance as Charlie, along with Elizabeth Carter’s determinedly devoted Susan, bring this story of redemption and growing up to vivid life.

But the night is Adam Lilley’s, and he is expected to perform the role until Saturday. Please don’t miss the chance to see him.


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