Review: Rain Man (Apollo Theatre)

The show’s first night was meant to happen last week, but then things don’t always happen as they’re originally intended. Just one week into rehearsals, director David Grindley left the show and was replaced by playwright/director Terry Johnson

So it actually turned out that last night’s performance was actually the final preview… apparently the show’s producers didn’t feel the need to reduce the price of my tickets. Fortunately, by the time I had watched last night’s show, I really didn’t care…

Remarkably, I have never seen the film that this play was adapated from… judging by the chatter among the audience members seated near to me, I was in the minority. I actually think it’s better not to have seen it – I didn’t feel the need to compare every detail of the play with an entirely different form, and had absolutely no preconceptions before the performance started.

I suppose there is one advantage of seeing a preview when you’re a blogger – it makes a nice change to have my say before the ‘official’ critics have had an opporunity.

I’ll keep it short and sweet – I thought it was a great production, so I’d probably give it 4 stars. A few things worth noting:

  • Adam Godley is absolutely incredible as Raymond Babbet. 100% convincing as the autistic savant, giving a tremendously gripping and emotional performance.
  • Josh Hartnett seriously exceeded my (albeit pretty low) expecatations. He really can act, and certainly didn’t look out of place on the London stage
  • Jonathan Fensom’s set was impressive, particularly the contrasting motel/hotel rooms – the set’s movement was very slick, just like the production itself

And finally, what a good job the producers did in bringing Terry Johnson on board. He really brings out the comedy in the play, without resorting to excessive caricature. I generally find it hard to know where the actor’s talent stops and the quality of the direction begins, but I think it’s fair to say that plenty of this show’s success is down in Johnson. If nothing else, Hartnett gives a real stage performance, despite some of the sceptical comments when he was originally cast.

In case you’re in any doubt, I’d recommend a trip. There was a few spare seats in the Dress Circle last night, so you should still be able to get your hands on tickets – you can buy them via the Nimax Theatres website.

Let’s see what the critics have to say tonight!

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