Educating Rita – Citizen's Theatre

book-1086244Perhaps the most surprising thing about this version of Educating Rita was that it emphasised the fact that the play has become something of a period piece. The academic’s room has no computer, essays are delivered by hand not e-mail, student work is written in handwriting. The ideas are rather dated too. A new English student is mocked, not lauded for giving an essentially Marxist interpretation of EM Forster. She is told to take an objective view as though the academic really believes that such is possible. On this stage, the Culture Wars of the last 25 years are yet to be fought. A young woman demands the wisdom of the ages from an older man and we are expected to let that dynamic pass without question.

One was reminded that Rita is much closer to being a scouse homage to Shaw’s Pygmalian than a scouse precurser to Mamet’s Oleanna

The set was a magnificent collection of books almost always seeming to be in danger of tumbling down. But it was the perfect metaphor for the play, and the best efforts of the two actors involved never quite seemed to keep it all up. Problems over the timing of the lines (genuinely funny dialogue being lost in audience laughter) should have been sorted out at the previews.

One memorable line in the play is Rita’s response to the question of how one should best overcome the staging difficulties of Peer Gynt. Her reply is, “Do it on the radio.”

The unfortunate suspicion grew during the evening that the best response that we could make to the question of how to overcome the problems of the Willie Russell play Educating Rita is, “Do it in a movie and leave it be.”

Rating: ★★½☆☆


  1. Elizabeth says

    Your final comment leaves me content with my decision not to see the Citz version. I am so attached the film that I generally find theatrical versions wanting something. Then I remember that what they’re wanting is Michael Caine and Julie Walters.

Speak Your Mind