2ND STORY’S “EDUCATING RITA” – BITTERSWEET COMEDY
It is heartening to watch the veteran actor work with the younger actress, and see each bringing out the best in one another.by Don Fowler, Warwick Beacon
You may have seen Willy Russell’s play or the movie based on the play, but you probably won’t see it done any better.
Thanks to the directing of Mark Peckham, the multi-scene play moves swiftly and smoothly over the course of a year, as a young British hairdresser and an older British college professor develop an unusual relationship.
Ed Shea returns to the stage in yet another juicy role as Frank, a poet and teacher who has turned to tutoring to supplement his income, and pay for the many bottles of booze he hides in his bookcase.
Tammy Brown, a young actress who we have enjoyed at Epic Theatre, plays Rita, a married, working-class hairdresser who is looking to educate herself.
Outwardly, the two have little in common, but over the course of countless lessons, both discover truths about themselves and end up changing their lives.
Performed in the round in the upstairs space, the play involves numerous costume changes and visits from Rita to Frank’s office, all handled without breaking the mood, with strains of “Teach me Tonight” playing during the transitions.
“I want to know everything,” Rita tells Frank.
“There is nothing I can teach you,” he responds.
By the end of the hour and 45 minute, two-act play, both learn a lot about themselves and each other, and both make major changes in their lives.
All this is done with very witty dialogue and a few emotional moments.
It is heartening to watch the veteran actor work with the younger actress, and see each bringing out the best in one another. Two-character plays are almost as difficult to pull off as one-character plays, but Shea, Brown, and director Peckham join forces to make “Educating Rita” an enjoyable evening of theatre.