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THEATRE REVIEW: “Educating Rita” by Willy Russell – The New Vic Theatre

22 April 2018 Theatre

“Educating Rita “ by Willy Russell has become a bit of a standard production for local repertory theatres since  it was first performed on stage in 1980. With a cast of just two, one standard set and a story that’s known by many theatre-goers it’s a fairly straightforward play to produce.

However there is nothing old-hat about the latest production of the play at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under- Lyme, directed by Sarah Punshon.

The verbal battles between the slightly stuffy, patrician and heavy drinking lecturer, Frank ( Andrew Pollard) and his Scouse hairdresser student  Rita ( Lauryn Redding) are a delight to listen to. There is a real chemistry on stage between the two which brings the play to life and makes the audience forget all about the so-so film version which starred Michael Caine and Julie Walters.

This new production is fresh and lively and is directed with such a pace that the pay never flags. Andrew Pollard was last seen at the New Vic as Phileas Fogg in “Around the World 80 Days”  and whilst this is a totally different part, once again he steals the show.

For those who don’t know the straightforward story, the play tells the story of Rita and her ambitions to learn “everything”, staring with an Open University English Literature course run by the hard drinking Frank.

Through the play the character of Rita develops as she does indeed try to learn everything , and we see those changes signified by her change from 1980’s pastel cinch –waisted dresses and heels to more Bohemian student  clothes.

Meanwhile Frank, who at first regrets running the course but also needs the money, comes to value Rita, but at the same time regrets her development into a student who has her own ideas, which may not agree with his.

This is an entertaining evening combining humour and a life lesson and is certainly well worth a visit.

“Educating Rita” runs at the New Vic Theatre until Saturday May 5th 2018.

Telephone the box office for tickets on 01782 717962 or email tickets@newvictheatre.org.uk

Written by Ian Corbishley- Hitmix Radio
Photographs by Darren Andrews


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