REVIEW: Educating Rita @ Bolton Octagon

Pic: Richard Davenport

Willy Russell’s classic two-hander drama, Educating Rita, began its run at the Bolton Octagon this week.

And this staging of the play, which made a star of Julie Walters in the original production and subsequent film version, will not disappoint.

The play tells the story of Susan White, a scouse hairdresser determined to break away from the confines of her working class background to “sing a better song”, by changing her name to Rita and embarking on an Open University literature course to better herself.

She literally bursts into the life of jaded alcoholic university don, Frank who reluctantly takes her on and they both embark on a journey of discovery – although what they eventually discover is not entirely what they had hoped for.

The stage version differs in many respects from the film which allows the viewer to see in  the flesh the multitude of characters, from Rita’s husband Denny and best friend Trish, to Frank’s wife Julia.

But this production brings these characters to life nonetheless, as we view them via the words of Rita and Frank, brilliantly delivered by Jessica Baglow and David Birrell.

With wonderful set and two fantastic performances, this is a triumph for director, Elizabeth Newman. Catch it if you can.

Runs till February 11

Dave Toomer



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