Growing up, learning and finding your own personal niche in life is never easy. Often the sense of alienation can fall upon us all at some point whilst merging from child to adult, from student to employment and searching for that place where we belong, where we are home. And sometimes it’s only when we step into the unknown and grab that opportunity, or take that challenge which takes us on a fascinating journey into a world of new beginnings and experiences where we find who we really are.
In Willy Russell’s Educating Rita all of these life challenges are explored, and in the adaptation at the New Vic they are explored exquisitely in an impeccable manner.
Rita bursts into the office of her initially reluctant tutor Frank, played by Andrew Pollard and the audience is instantly fixated to the realistic layout in the round.
Frank is soon worn down by Rita’s nervous wit and charm which is delivered to perfection by Lauryn Redding. An agreement is made between the pair which sees Frank attempt to teach his unique student all there is to know about literature in between him sipping whiskey and Rita’s troubled marriage.
The pair’s relationship grows and the slight hint of sexual chemistry between them – under director Sarah Punshon – is just the right balance.
Pollard’s performance is intense and true as the story flows from one scene to the next seeing Frank almost hit rock bottom as his delightful Rita, or now Susan, grows into the independent, strong woman she was destined to be.
Educating Rita may have first been written more than three decades ago, but through the perfect formula of Pollard and Redding this life story is delivered with meaning to the audience of 2018.
Educating Rita finished at the New Vic Theatre on May 5.