Achieving Humor in Educating Rita by Willy Russell Essay

Achieving Humor in Educating Rita by Willy Russell Essay

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Achieving Humor in Educating Rita by Willy Russell

Written by Willy Russell in 1985, "Educating Rita" is a comical
interpretation of his own life as a young Liverpudlian hairdresser and
his aspirations to become educated. The play is based on Rita, the
hairdresser who wants a better life, and begins this adventure by
enrolling in an Open University course. It is here she meets her
tutor, Frank. You could say, the key to her dreams. If I were to
direct this play, I would seek to achieve humour for an audience by
exploring the different aspects of comedy; comedy of character, comedy
of situation, comedy of misunderstanding and comedy of language.

There are many examples of comedy of character in this play,
especially as Russell has created such strong and impressionable
characters. Rita, the quick tongued, outspoken, witty character is a
foundation for humour as she isn't afraid to speak her mind.
An excellent example of her humorous character is Rita's first meeting
with Frank, her soon-to-be tutor. As she enters his office, she
notices a risqui picture on the wall and is unable to resist
commenting on how "It's very erotic." and defending her opinion by
saying "there's no suppose about it," and using the imperative, "Look
at those tits." The audience should find this humorous as it is as
they would be shocked at her sudden outburst to an 'authority figure'
in the play. However, in order to achieve maximum humour for the
audience, I would emphasize Rita's Liverpudlian accent and Rita would
speak naturally to show her openness and her self-confidence. Frank's
reaction to Rita's outburst is also vital if humour is to be achieved.
Frank is rather unsettled by Rita's confidence and to show this, his
reaction should be delayed and confused to show his inability to keep
up with Rita's quick tongue. It is imperative that this scene gives
the audience the impression that this play is humorous, as it is the
first time the audience meets the characters.

Frank's attitude towards Rita is another good example of comedy of
character. As a tutor in an university, the audience would expect
Frank to be very formal, however, he isn't in this situation. Frank
reveals his comic personality to the audience as he discusses a window
in his office to Rita. He tells her that he "sometimes get an urge to
throw something through it usually a stu...

... middle of paper ...

dramatically. "Sod them - no, fuck them!" This shows how similar Frank
and Rita can be no matter how well educated of high class Frank is. In
order to maximise humour, Frank would be excessive and over the top to
show the effect of alcohol on Frank.

Comedy of situation is used throughout the play and is used with
different aspects of comedy, such as when Rita first entered Frank's
office at the beginning of the play and Rita's use of language. It is
difficult to have comedy of situation on its own, so I would do what
Russell did, combine it with another aspect for maximum comedy effect.

Willy Russell has used every aspect of comedy to their full advantage
and has achieved highlighting class differences through comedy. When
Russell wrote the play, he wrote it to be performed and wrote stage
directions too. Personally, I would not change that because that is
the way he intended it to be, but I would concentrate on body
language, facial expressions and how they talk, e.g. the tone. So, if
I were directing 'Educating Rita' I would seek to achieve humour for
the audience? Simply by exploring the different aspects of comedy that
Willy Russell has used so well.

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