In what ways is Educating Rita effective as a play?

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In what ways is Educating Rita effective as a play?

'Educating Rita" is dramatically effective in many ways. It is also

recognised as an exceptional play; it was voted "Best comedy of the

year" when performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1980, and

just three years after release, it had become the fourth most popular

play in Britain. There are obviously factors which make it so

effective, and I intend to explore these factors.

Throughout the play, there are only two characters: this is known as a

two-hander. Other characters are only mentioned in the play, but in

the film have been cast as parts. It worked well for the film, but I

think it lost the closeness which plays such an important part in the

theatre. Some people would find this to be tedious, but I think it

adds to the intensity and intimacy between the audience and the


There is a focus on the two characters which means that the audience

can appreciate the relationship between Rita and Frank which is

emphasised more than it would be with other characters, and would

notice any subtle changes that occur in the play. For example, when

Rita starts to use the correct form of speech for talking about

literature and uses a higher standard of English. You can see this in

Act I, Scene 4 when Frank and Rita were talking about her "Peer Gynt"

essay where her response was "Do it on the radio." Frank could not

believe what she had written as her entire essay, and in her defense

Rita says, "I didn't have much time this week, so I sort of, y'know,

encapsulated all me ideas in one line."

The audience familiarise with Frank and Rita and we can see more

closely what they are feeling and thinking because we know them

better. We understand that Rita feels that she is stuck in the lower

class and she wants to better herself by "changing from the inside"

and taking Literature classes. Frank is a tired, middle-aged man and

he can see that the world is passing by but he cannot be bothered to

do anything about it. He drinks to try and suppress this feeling:

"Life is such a rich and frantic whirl that I need the drink to help

me step delicately through it." Both characters are stuck in a rut,

but Rita wants to change her situation and is making the effort to

achieve that change.

We can also sympathise with Rita and Frank because of the closeness

between audience and characters, and so this can make otherwise

trivial circumstances seem more significant, such as when Rita
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