Leeds Forum

Review Educating Rita

A review by Liz Coggins

A play about education with one set and just two characters could be the recipe for one very boring evening – but not if it is Willy Russell’s iconic play Educating Rita.

The story centres on Frank, a tutor of English whose disillusioned outlook on life drives him to the bottle. Rita is a hairdresser hungry to find some meaning to life. With Frank as her tutor Rita embarks on an Open University course and her education process begins whilst Frank also learns to believe in himself again.

Tamara Harvey’s production has pace and attack and is beautifully staged. With dozens of short scenes the passage of time is handled exceptionally well using lighting and music.

As Frank, Matthew Kelly, shows what a brilliant actor he is. He handles the changing emotions, quick paced wit and persona of Frank so convincingly you would be forgiven for thinking he’s an academic for real.

Claire Sweeney has come a long way since her days in Brookside as an actress and as the feisty, eager to learn Rita she is so at ease and displays just the right amount of brashness. Both Kelly and Sweeney have impeccable comedy timing which is necessary to get the most of out the one liners that pepper the play.

Educating Rita is a piece of classic theatre with superb humour and also a reflection of the social history of the 80’s and is well worth making the effort to see.

Posted on Monday 25th June 2012

Alhambra Theatre

Morley Street, Bradford, BD7 1AJ

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