Educating Rita, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
Eastbourne Theatres have teamed up with Talking Scarlet to present their latest in-house production Educating Rita.
This was a brave decision to take, as Willy Russell’s famous play was made into a memorable film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters.
But it is a decision that has paid off by brilliant casting and excellent direction by Philip Stewart who also designed the set.
Brian Capron, best known for his role as the evil Richard Hillman in Coronation Street is first-class as the drunken university tutor Frank Bryant who takes on Educating Rita for her Open University Course to raise extra money for his drink.
As he gradually disintegrates into a drunken stupor because she doesn’t need him any more he seems to physically change and age before your eyes and that one scene is the most poignant in the play.
As for Rita,you never once even think of Julie Walters as soon as Jennifer Daley bounces on stage in her first entrance. She is excellent in the role which she makes her own and the way she matures into a smart, intelligent woman is remarkable.
These two actors are perfect foils for each other and it is a very entertaining evening in the theatre.
There are some nice little comic touches added by the director such as Frank lowering his typist’s chair when he is drunk to sit lower than Rita which brought a roar of laughter from the audience.
If I had to give marks for this production it would be 11 out of 10!
By Amanda Wilkins