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...
... middle of paper ...
...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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