From the moment we walked into the auditorium at the Horsham Capitol last night, it was clear this was going to be a treat if the slightly quirky set was anything to go by.
Educating Rita is a story about a young married hairdresser from Liverpool called Susan who is dissatisfied with what she sees as the constraints of her working-class upbringing and subsequent lot in life. Married to a controlling husband who “wants the girl he first met” to have a baby, but she knows there is more life out there for her to savour, and the key to that is being able to understand what great literature can teach her about the world and her place in it. Or as she puts it “I want to know everything”.
Thus the two protagonists from different ends of class, experience and background meet for regular tutoring sessions in Frank’s study. Susan arrives as Rita, having changed her name to effect a completely new persona, away from the humdrum life she leads. What follows is a clash of minds, attitudes and perspectives, at times hilarious (Rita’s one liners are sheer delight).
This enthralling duet is brilliantly played by Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson who deftly move their characters through changes so subtle that you really have to blink at the end of remember how they started. Very clever, very entertaining.
Educating Rita is at the Capitol Horsham from tonight until Saturday 11th September. For tickets and information see their website for details – Capitol Horsham
Educating Rita by Willy Russell 2020
Director Max Roberts
Designer Patrick Connellan
Lighting Designer Drummond Orr
Stephen Tompkinson as Frank
Jessica Johnson as Rita
All images ©Nobby Clark [email protected]