Rain Man – October 2009

8/10

Adapted from the screenplay by Dan Gordon

Directed by Robin Herford

Venue: Richmond Theatre

Date: Wednesday 28th OCtober 2009

This was a very good adaptation of the screenplay and the performances, particularly of the two leads, were excellent. I cried. What more could I ask for?

The story included all the main points from the film though some scenes were dropped, such as the actual driving, and some were condensed or reported, so that for example the burning scene in the flat was mentioned at the court ordered review of Raymond’s situation. We still got the wheeling and dealing at the start, the delivery of the bad news to Charlie (not that his father’s dead, but that he just gets the car and the rose bushes) the kidnapping and attempted flight via, well, flight, the road trip and visit to Las Vegas and the final review meeting. All the way through both Neil Morrissey as Raymond and Oliver Chris as Charlie gave us perfectly judged performances. Raymond had lots of twitches and a tendency to look up and away, while Charlie was a seriously unpleasant bastard to start with but gradually softened as he discovered who Raymond really was to become just an average bastard by the end. And on the way Raymond gets some decent clothes, a dance with a beautiful woman, a kiss and a chance to drive his father’s car. He does miss out on a date with a dancing hooker, of course, but that’s probably for the best.

I don’t remember the film giving me such a strong sense that Charlie has actually done his brother some good by taking him out for a while, though as with the film we could see how Charlie benefited from his anger coming up against an immovable object. The adaptation had also been updated to include more recent plane crashes including one of the ones that hit the twin towers, which really got Raymond going. From memory, I think Qantas has now lost its perfect record on accidents so updating the dialogue is a double edged sword, but it still worked fine on stage.

The set was very flexible, with panels sliding on and off for walls and the ‘spare’ cast doing furniture removal duty. It all went very smoothly, and it was nice to see the understudies actually get something to do as extras in the public scenes. We both enjoyed this very much, and as I said before, I cried. Brilliant.

© 2009 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

Terms Of Endearment – October 2007

6/10

By: Dan Gordon, based on the novel by Larry McMurtry and the screenplay by James L Brooks

Directed by: David Taylor

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Monday 8th October 2007

This stage adaptation is apparently different from the film, though it borrows at least one of the film’s conflations – that of the character Garrett Breedlove (what a name!). Not having read the book nor seen the movie, I had very little idea of what to expect, other than some tear jerking moments. For someone who likes a good sob on a regular basis, and who is often known to indulge, I found my eyes only became moist at the ending of this play, though as I did have a few laughs along the way, I still enjoyed myself well enough.

The plot. Mother and daughter disagree over daughter’s choice of husband, then come together over daughter’s illness and death. During all this, mother rediscovers sex. That’s about it.

The set had two platforms to the rear, and space at the front of the stage with doors either side. Mostly, these spaces stayed the same, but there were changes for the hospital scenes and after the initial scene with the daughter smoking pot with her best friend in the bathroom. Theatre of burglary was well to the fore again, and we were also treated to the ludicrous sight of a long black pole sliding a seat and table onto the stage from one of the forward doorways.

The performances varied. John Bowe was excellent as Garrett Breedlove, giving the most rounded performance of the cast, and making the most of what was one of the better parts, if not the best. He certainly made it look that way. The best scene of all was his almost casual threatening of the oncologist supposedly looking after the daughter, but he boosted the energy every time he appeared. I particularly liked his expression when he almost gets away without commenting on the mother’s “I love you”. Linda Gray as Aurora, the mother, still has a good body, if the parts showing through the diaphanous nightgown are anything to go by. Her acting range doesn’t appear to extend to depth of characterisation, nor to subtlety of performance, but she made up for it by semaphoring wildly and rapidly during the opening scenes, and with the range of her grimaces, most of which we saw during the first half. This was all tempered after the interval – it’s amazing what a good orgasm can do for a woman – and she made it to the end OK. The daughter, the other main part, was OK, but I felt it was seriously underwritten. The final deathbed scene was moving, though I think I had been more affected by Garrett’s concern for the daughter than anything else.

Not a play I would choose to see again, but not a complete loss of an evening, either, thanks to Mr Bowe.

© 2007 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me