Adapted for the stage by Dan Gordon
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, and touring
One of the few not having seen the film, I came to this performance with no preconceived ideas. It begins with the financial problems of a young executive, isolated from his family because his mother died very young and his father ignored him, so Charlie Babbit (played by Oliver Chris, extravagantly at first, and then movingly) reciprocated appropriately
He was not surprised to learn that on his father's death, he got the old Buick that he had not been allowed to drive when young and a crop of flowers from the front garden. That might have been tolerable except that his brother, of whose existence he was not aware, got the 12 million dollars, sheltered by Dr. Breuner (Charles Lawson) in his sanatorium.
Ostensibly the play is about the struggle to get at least half of the money, but it turns on the developing understanding between the two brothers, undoubtedly complicated by the fact that Raymond (Rain Man), most deftly delineated by Neil Morrissey, suffers from autism. His assets are cleverly illlustrated, for example, by him knowing the waitress Sally Dibbs's address and telephone number from the phone book he had just glanced at and remembered as far as letter J.
The thoughtful interplay of a number of complex situations, ranging form arguments trying to resolve Charlie's failing business, interspersed with Raymond's strange ways of handling life's simplest problems, including learning to dance, and experiencing his first kiss - wet! - are a tribute not only to the leads but also the multiple parts played by Ruth Everett, Emma Gregory and Patrick Brennan.
Peter Lathan reviewed this production at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Reviewer: Philip Seager