Rita, a young, brash hairdresser, has recently discovered a passion for English literature and enrols with the Open University. Her fresh, unschooled reaction to the classics challenges the attitudes of the University and her lecturer Frank who begins to question his own understanding of his work and himself.
Matthew Kelly has worked extensively in theatre and television, winning an Olivier award for his role as Lennie in Birmingham Rep's production of Of Mice and Men. Other theatre includes: Legally Blonde (UK tour), Buried Child (Leicester Curve), Waiting For Godot (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Spamalot (UK tour) and Lend Me A Tenor (Gielgud). Matthew's television credits include Benidorm, Bleak House and Cold Blood, and he continues to enjoy a very successful career as a television presenter.
Claire Sweeney is well known for her role as Lindsey Corkhill on the popular soap Brookside, and has also starred in the award winning Clocking Off, Merseybeat and Candy Cabs. Claire's theatre credits include Roxy in Chicago (Adelphi), Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls with Patrick Swayze (Piccadilly), Tell Me on a Sunday (UK Tour) and most recently as Paulette in the UK tour of Legally Blonde.
Tamara Harvey directed Smash! at the Chocolate Factory in 2011. Other theatre credits include: The Kitchen Sink and Where’s My Seat (Bush), Tell Me on a Sunday (UK tour) and Dancing at Lughnasa (Birmingham Rep).
Russell’s lines never fail to raise a laugh or make you think. And the end result is a solid production that succeeds in providing enough life lessons to gain it pass marks. Albeit more of a B+ than an A.
While on one level Russell's play is a rose-tinted time capsule of a more open British education system, it also offers a glimpse of what is – or was – possible. One can't help but wonder about all the latter-day Ritas who slip through the net.
Russell’s tender and idealistic comedy still makes for a touching and well-shaped evening of theatre; and it’s well served by Tamara Harvey’s attractive, straightforward touring production, playing in Glasgow this week.
Tamara Harvey's production of Educating Rita is rather like the funny teacher at school who can't teach: it will make you laugh but you won't necessarily learn anything new from it.
Sweeney & Kelly in Educating Rita rehearsals
Claire Sweeney takes lead role in Educating Rita revival