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Humour within the Play Educating Rita

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Humour within the Play Educating Rita

Educating Rita has survived as a popular play in production because

Willy Russell successfully combines humour with serious themes.

Educating Rita, a play written in 1979, and by 1983 the fourth most

popular play in Britain, remains a favourite of the British today.

Based partly on his own experiences, Willy Russell created a

theatrical masterpiece, remarkably with only two characters. So we ask

ourselves the question: how did he accomplish this? I will explore

just how the play has survived in current British culture, with

hundreds of plays being written every year, yet still remaining a

favourite of students, grandparents, and critics alike.

I will first explore the humour within the play, and the different

forms it takes. Firstly is verbal; one example can be taken from the

very first scene, where Rita’s boldness and Frank’s obvious shocked

response makes us laugh, and endears us.

On stage, we have only just met Rita and Frank. We are unaware of how

the two characters personalities are, and the only thing we have to

judge them on is their appearance.

Rita: “That’s a nice picture, isn’t it?” (referring to a nude painting

upon his office wall)

Frank: “….yes, I suppose it is.”

Rita: “There’s no suppose about it. Look at those tits.”

This kind of sheer boldness in Rita is what makes her original, and

Willy Russell’s choice of verbal slang is perfect to create Rita’s

character, and indeed keeps the audience amused throughout. Frank’s

strictly formal answer is the opposite of Rita’s easy loose language,

and this makes the characters seem even more different.

The juxtaposition of the pairs vocabulary skills also contributes to

the plays comedic essence...

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...sonally believe that the play has lasted for over 30 years

because the themes its contains can be related to almost any adult in

Britain over the last 30 years. Almost everyone has dealt with one of

the problems presented within the play, yet it has been written with

such skill that it is not too heavy, and the comedis elements involved

make it thoroughly enjoyable. The balance of humour and serious issues

is perfect, and Russell is obviously a very talented scriptwriter,

also shown by his highly acclaimed (especially by myself) “Blood

Brothers” in which he explores the theme of social divide again. Both

the characters are unique and original, and we are entranced by their

relationship in particular. The cliffhanger ending and serious issues

involved leave an impression upon us, and we continue to think about

the play long after seeing it or reading it.
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