EDUCATING RITA | STAGE REVIEW
Sherman Cymru, Cardiff
Wed 17 Apr
words RHIANON HOLLEY
Clwyd Theatr Cymru’s production of Educating Rita at Sherman Cymru is a contemporary take on a classic story.
The play charts the development of Rita (previously Susan) who is unhappy with the direction that her life is taking as a married hairdresser and the low expectations of those around her, and so embarks on a journey to become educated. Enrolling on an English Literature Open University course, Rita is determined to know “everything”. Cue the introduction of lecturer Frank who is in awe of Rita’s infectious personality. Frank is a suppressed poet and problem drinker: his bottles of scotch are cleverly categorised according to different author’s surnames.
The scene is set in one room for the duration of the play. Frank’s office is an atmospheric homely room, littered with books which add an atmospheric ambience to the production. Both actors manage to command the stage with significant presence. Katie Elin-Salt, a promising young actress from Bridgend, provides an exquisite performance as the likeable and funny Rita. Welsh actor Richard Elfyn manages to engage the audience with his poetic language and likeable demeanour.
Educating Rita is perhaps best known as the BAFTA award-winning film starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters. Willy Russell’s production was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1980; the play ran for over two years in the West End followed by a national tour. Clwyd Theatr Cymru’s production is directed by Emma Lucia and, after moving from its original setting to the South Wales Valleys, manages to incorporate a storyline that is relevant to today’s society, bringing everyday situations to life.
A poignant and moving portrayal about cultural choices and social standing that determine the path you take, both performances demand the attention of the audience. Filled with humour, this inspirational and infectious British cultural classic is not to be missed and will undoubtedly leave you with an appetite for knowledge.