THINGS TO SEE: Educating Rita

Jessica Johnson as Rita and Stephen Tompkinson as Frank in EDUCATING RITA. Credit Robert Day (press 2)

These tickets were not gifted but I have worked with Darlington Hippodrome before.Jessica Johnson as Rita and Stephen Tompkinson as Frank in EDUCATING RITA. Credit Robert Day (press 2)I’m back after a very, very busy weekend. I actually only got back from Paris yesterday and then headed to the theatre in the afternoon to see the highly acclaimed Educating Rita with my nana. I was tired and almost didn’t go but I am so glad that I did. It was beyond worth it.

Educating Rita is the story of two people from different backgrounds who bond over a mutual love of literature. Jessica Johnson plays Liverpudlian Rita, a hairdresser who decides to take an Open University course – to her husband’s great disapproval. She is joined on stage by Stephen Tompkinson, who plays Frank, a disillusioned professor.

The two carry the entire show themselves with their relentless energy and talent. Having never seen the show, I was surprised when there were only two actors but I needn’t have worried – the two worked together exceptionally and were utterly captivating. There is some exceptional talent in this play that can not and will not be ignored.

The two actors showed their incredible range as they showed the comedic and emotional depth of the phenomenal characters. Frank and Rita made me laugh, almost made me cry and certainly had me thinking about the topics it deftly discussed. As a literature student, the discussions were fascinating to me but especially in regards to the differences around class and culture. Educating Rita was incredibly potent in places, with an important message that is just as relevant today as it has always been.

The play entirely takes place in Frank’s office and as such, it is clear that the set was incredibly important when the play was being designed. It is full of little clues as to who Frank is and used dynamically to show Rita’s own development as a character. It was the phantom third character in the play and expertly chosen.

In short, this is an exceptional production with a relentless energy that forces you to pay attention to the wonderful story and people at the centre of it. This is theatre at its best: potent, emotional and utterly transformative.

Educating Rita is on at the Darlington Hippdrome untilĀ  Saturday so go ahead and get your tickets. It really is a must-see!

Kelly x


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