Skip to content

Educating Rita

I’ve been feeling rather low recently so I decided that I’d better make an effort and do something positive  and proactive this weekend, rather than sitting around at home feeling sorry for myself. So I ate out for lunch and then went to the matinée performance of Educating Rita at the Malvern Theatres. I had seen the film a few years back, so  I was reassured that, however bleak the comedy might get at times, at least no one was going to die of cancer at the end of the first act!

I booked myself a table for one at my second-favourite local restaurant, the Fig Tree. It’s a very pleasant
Mediterranean-style restaurant which has the advantage over the Plough and Harrow of being right in the centre of Malvern and so within walking distance of the theatre – which meant that I could have a glass of wine with my lunch and not worry about driving. Christine was very welcoming, as always, and I really like the way that both she, and Juliet at the Plough, have adapted to my smaller-than-average appetite, and automatically offer me a small portion where it’s possible, even though it’s not necessarily on the menu as such.

Matthew Kelly and Claire Sweeney in Educating Rita

The play starred Matthew Kelly (whom I’m afraid I automatically think of as a partner-in-crime with Jeremy Beadle in Game for a Laugh – that dates me!) and Claire Sweeney whom I’d only vaguely heard of before as I never used to watch Brookside. Unlike the Michael Caine / Julie Walters film, it’s entirely a two-hander, set wholly within Frank’s book-lined university study. So the play totally depended on the chemistry between the two characters. In fact, they both turned out to be very accomplished actors, and made the characters of Frank and Rita entirely believable. Matthew Kelly was very good as Frank, an embittered and alcoholic English lecturer and failed poet, taking on Open University tuition after-hours to pay for his drink. Claire Sweeney was equally good as Rita, a hyper-keen working class woman wanting to better herself by learning “everything”. I found it very interesting seeing how the tables were gradually turned, as Rita gained the education she craved and out-grew Frank’s teaching, but in the process became estranged from her friends and husband. There were some real laugh-out-loud moments, which did me a lot of good.