This production of Educating Rita is well worth Sheffield now

Watching Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson in a fresh production of Willy Russell’s celebrated ‘Educating Rita’ was a rare treat.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 8:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 4:49 pm
Jessica Johnson and Stephen Tompkinson star as Rita and Frank in Educating Rita

Pent, endlessly chattering energy from a determined Rita, drawing laconic, witty response from a bemused Frank, built a tutor/ student relationship that was endearing and believable.

The pair gave stunning performances that evoked applause after every closing scene….and resulted in three curtain calls at the end.

Just two characters, and one stage set, but a story that still says so much, and makes you laugh – often.

It is almost 40 years since the play was first staged, then followed by the 1983 hit film.

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We witness Scouse 20-something hairdresser Rita gain and develop as she embraces learning, while jaded Frank begins to sink, clinging on to his whisky bottle as a life raft.

There are poignant moments. But both emerge, finally, with choices and new opportunities to take them forward to whatever comes next.

The play has plenty of social comment and is thought provoking on many levels. But it is uplifting in essence, and a pure pleasure to relax and enjoy the skill of these fine actors. ​​​​​​​