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David Porter » Reviews » Educating Rita

Educating Rita

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 21 March 2008

Educating Rita (1)


This compelling drama is all about clashes of ideas, personalities, social classes and emotions. The Sewell Barn have come up with a masterpiece of such emotions.

Rita, (the outstanding Kiera Long) a working class Liverpudlian hairdresser, decides to get an education, enrols on an English literature course and enters the world of Frank (Bob Young), an alcoholic professor/poet.

She yearns to learn about herself and about culture. He’s drained, cynical, a lonely academic taking comfort in the bottle, reluctant to teach her.

There is comedy on the surface as class and culture clash.

Yet beneath, in typical Willy Russell writing, flows a dark tide exposing what is wrong with education and society and what is important about learning.

A full-length play with only two actors can be taxing if beyond the capabilities of the performers. But they are more than up to it.

The girl is cheeky, hungry, vulnerable. He is older, differently vulnerable and ultimately reborn through her. They explore the student-teacher relationship – the verbal sparring is wonderful, the home truths piercing.

Director Mike Dunne is to be congratulated on working character, space and timing to perfection.

The man is sympathetic yet realistic; the girl is hilarious and totally convincing. They are on a complex, touching voyage of discovery.

Join them. You won’t regret it.

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