Review: Rain Man at Milton Keynes Theatre

Translating a popular classic film to the stage can be a tricky one

Mathew Horne and Ed Speleers in Rain Man
Mathew Horne and Ed Speleers in Rain Man

It is the second time that Rain Man has been adapted for the stage and this slightly more minimalist production means there is even more pressure on the actors to reach the heights of Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise.

Charlie Babbit discovers that his estranged father has left him barely anything in the world while discovering his £3 million fortune has been left to a brother he never knew he had. Charlie sets out to claim half the fortune from Raymond but goes on a voyage of self-discovery.

It's an interesting choice to concentrate more on the acting, and arguably with the emotion of the story it is a choice, but to me, given the lack of action on stage, it felt like it could have been very easily a radio play. Especially as the set is very minimal and there is not a huge amount of changes between the sets. It's a common complaint I have with theatre in that it seems to ignore the visual element a little too much.

On the acting front, comparisons between the esteemed duo from the film is always going to be difficult. I'm not hugely aware of people with autism so I'll have to go off my other half who does work with kids with autism and said that Mathew Horne's portrayal is realistic of someone who has autism. Edward Speleers of Downton Abbey fame is arguably better in the moments of tenderness between the two brothers. He comes across as a little too unlikable in the first half, the sort of person you are happy to see getting a kicking.

The first half is a little too static but the show picks up considerably with the very tender scene between the two brothers which was wonderful to watch.

I'm not quite sure it is was worthy of the standing ovation it received from some of the audience but this is not a bad attempt at bringing the film to the stage. But in my view, not outstanding.

Rain Man can be seen at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday September 8. Tickets for this show can be booked by calling the box office on 0844 871 7652 or visit The show is also at Northampton's Royal & Derngate and can be seen from Monday to Saturday November 19 to 24. Tickets for these performances can be booked by visiting or call 01604 624811.