What is the aim of education? Is it simply to improve job prospects by downloading as much information as possible into our brains over as shorter period as possible? On the other hand, is it to discover more about life, yourself and those around you? These are the questions raised during ‘Educating Rita’, as Rita seeks to improve herself though education, with the help of her heavy whisky drinking Tutor.
The stage is a masterpiece, a study extends into the theatre and the audience get a good view of the stage with seats either side of the arena. I thought the set was a perfect representation of the character of Frank, the heavy whisky drinking tutor (Played by Ruairi Conaghan), with knowledge and wisdom lining the walls on shelves but with booze on hand. Ruairi does an amazing job of representing both the well-read and the desperate/drunk sides of Frank. The only problem I had was that during certain parts of the performance the character would sometimes mumble his words and this would occasionally mean the audience was unable to hear what was being said.
Danielle Flett has the difficult job of following in the footsteps of Julie Walters, who made the part of Rita her own in both the original 1980-stage production and the popular 1983 film with Michael Caine. However, she does a wonderful job of displaying the changes in the character of Rita, beginning as a nervous character who constantly chats and anxiously moves around the stage and evolving into a character who no longer feels restricted by her lack of knowledge.
The show starts as a comedy, but as the night develops it grows more into a drama. The night had the audience engrossed and I found myself engaged with the characters and the plotline throughout. If you can, I would highly recommend that you try to get a seat near the front of the theatre; on the press night, the lucky few at the front were saying how interment the front seating felt.