All Rita on the night, a classic to be Frank
Educating Rita, CADOS, Chorley Little Theatre, Until Saturday
Surrounded by bookshelves and desks in his University office, university lecturer Frank is moonlighting for the Open University to help pay for his increasing drinking habit.
Along comes Rita, an uneducated working class hairdresser from Liverpool who decides, at 26, that she wants to change her life and “learn about everything”. She wants to mix with people who talk about writers like Chekhov instead of perms, football and food but she is saddled with a husband who believes her only purpose is to provide him with a child.
Frank explains that to pass her exams she will have to follow the academic line and sacrifice her individuality, so ending up in another rut of a different kind but, undeterred, she takes the course and passes her exams only to find Frank was right and she needs to recapture her freedom of expression.
In essence, this is Willy Russell’s autobiography; the uneducated lad whose ambition to be a writer is mocked by his classmates who are all destined for manual labour and he himself ends up being a hairdresser. Until he goes back to education and this play becomes the start of a glittering career.
Sadly, the play as as relevant now as it was in 1980 when he wrote it. The divide between the affluent middle-classes and the poor working class is as big as ever.
Barry Callander as Frank, a failed poet disillusioned with the education process and turning ever more to drink, and Annaka Lee as Rita with her Scouse accent, were excellent, grabbing the audience’s attention from the start and holding it all the way through.
Special mention too for the lighting and sound operation, as always an outstanding feature of CADOS productions. Directed by Dave Reid and produced by Mark Jones, this stands up as good as any production of this classic play that I have seen.