It’s a pleasant surprise to see how successfully Dan Gordon’s theatre adaptation of the screen classic starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman translates to the stage. The tale of city slicker Charlie Babbitt’s relationship with his long-lost institutionalised older brother, Raymond, remains a touching rite of passage; the brothers’ journey towards understanding, forgiveness and unconditional love still as poignant.
TV star Neil Morrissey is quietly impressive, never allowing his portrayal of autistic savant Raymond to become over-indulgent and affected. And while it’s difficult not to make comparisons between this and Hoffman’s powerful performance, Morrissey does, to his credit, manage the highly physical role to charming effect.
Oliver Chris, from Green Wing and The Office, plays Charlie, in many ways the tougher role. Chris succeeds in balancing his angry disaffection in the first act with a solid portrayal of a young man struggling to reconcile the loss of a family he never really knew in the second.
At the heart of the play lies Chris and Morrissey’s ability to play off each other to touching, comedic effect, slowly pulling apart the heartaches of a family lost, before trying in vain to weave it back together.
It’s frustrating then that the dénouement of the piece comes all too quickly, never fully capturing the raw emotion of the original. Charlie’s revelation that he loves Raymond more than his money hasn’t quite the foundation or gravitas that it should, rushed as the second half is towards its inevitable conclusion, and this slightly undermines an otherwise enjoyable night of theatre.
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, until Sat 21 Nov. Seen at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 10 Nov