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David Porter » Reviews » Educating Rita (2)

Educating Rita (2)

Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

Review commissioned by Eastern Daily Press, November 2013, not published by them

Willy Russell has written successful dramas capturing life’s bitter-sweet shades – Shirley Valentine, Blood Brothers and Educating Rita.

This two-hander about a young hairdresser (Jennifer Daley) who crashes into the study of the professor (Brian Capron) for Open University tutorials follows the academic year. Her street-wise, working-class Scouser, hard life exterior is pushed aside by a thirst for knowledge and betterment that he first finds appealing in a faintly patronising way.

He is a middle-aged, world-weary, seen-it-all, read-it-all superior academic with a severe alcohol problem. Rita gradually gets under his skin and into his heart. He becomes besotted with her; she doesn’t realise.

His tragedy is that she outgrows her need for his teaching and moves on, stronger, more fulfilled. It’s unlikely he’ll escape his demons in Australia but he has learned truths about himself from her.

They handled pace and timing perfectly, peeling away the layers as she gains self confidence and understanding, while he is bewildered by his own life’s attitudes. A joy to see professional drama on the Marina stage.

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