PUBLISHED: 16:05 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 24 August 2010
by Nadia Sam-Daliri Transforming this much-loved Oscar winning film into a stage winner was never going to be an easy feat. Would Adam Godley s autistic prodigy Raymond Babbitt be a parody of Dustin Hoffman s technically spot-on perform
by Nadia Sam-Daliri
Transforming this much-loved Oscar winning film into a stage winner was never going to be an easy feat.
Would Adam Godley's autistic prodigy Raymond Babbitt be a parody of Dustin Hoffman's technically spot-on performance and would Josh Hartnett be able to shift the image of a cocky Tom Cruise out of our heads?
Well, from scene one, we forget the two Hollywood heavyweights that made this extraordinary tale of a brothers' journey so memorable.
Josh Hartnett gets off to a shaky start and his fast talking, all-over-the-shop body language don't quite ring true in the opening, big business LA scenes.
But, thankfully, he settles into the role as soon as he meets his autistic older brother, Raymond, who has a mathematic genius streak and a fear of spontaneity and physical contact.
Adam Godley is superb in his depiction of autism, a disease that leaves its sufferers reliant on rituals and unable to decipher the difference between light hearted and serious talk.
This is by no means a copy-cat performance of the role that won Dustin Hoffman critical acclaim.
Raymond is awkwardly out of sync with each scenario that his brother, Charlie places him in during their road trip across the States, but reveals moments of real pain, humour and compassion when the role requires it.
Josh Hartnett cuts a fine figure on stage.
He swaggers with the confidence that the character commands in his arrogant spells but also masters boyish vulnerability in those crucial personal moments.
Needless to say for a female audience member, physically, this play is a pleasure to watch.
And that's not just due to our Hollywood man (honest).
Godley grapples with the physical restraints of severe autism with effortless accuracy. The direction is spot-on; the dancing scene in which Charlie and Raymond make physical contact for the first time particularly moving.
It is only at this point that we realise the on-stage chemistry that Godley and Hartnett have built.
Between his jittering steps, Raymond makes eye contact for the first time in the play and Godley encapsulates the moment with all the poignancy it deserves.
The play doesn't veer off the film's track at all but this does not matter.
It's an enjoyable couple of hours which provides both laughs and, possibly, the odd tear.
Rain Man is on at the Apollo Theatre, in Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Circus until December 20.
Tickets start at £25.
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