The Gains and Losses of Educating Rita

The Gains and Losses of Educating Rita

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The Gains and Losses of Educating Rita

The purpose of my essay is to explain, in considerable detail, the
gains and loses of Educating Rita for it being a two-handed play.

The play, ‘Educating Rita’, written by Willy Russell is very
entertaining, although there are only two characters, hence the reason
it is a two-handed play. The grounds on which I found it entertaining
is based upon the basic plot outline which consists of Rita, a
working-class Liverpool girl, with a hunger for education and Frank,
her lecturer, attempts to do just that, but, their relationship
changes, they become close. Close in the sense by not sharing your
average perception of a student and teacher relationship. They drink
and smoke together. This soon changes when Rita’s knowledge expands
with the help of Frank and summer school. Summer school also helps to
boost Rita’s confidence enabling her to socialise with educated people
like herself. Rita divorces her husband, Denny, and gets a new flat
mate called Trish. Trish has a great influence on Rita until, she
discovered, Trish tried to commit suicide. Rita and Frank soon fall
out however; Frank still enters her for an exam. This concludes in
Rita passing her exam and fulfilling her dream of an education. She
soon becomes Frank’s friend again. Other characters, such as Trish and
Denny are never seen but talked about. All the scenes, throughout the
play, are set in the Open University where Rita is being taught.

To help me carry out this essay I watched the film, ‘Educating Rita’,
in order to identify any gains and losses for the two – handed play.

After having read the play and seen the movie I am struck by the large
number of differences. Many small details have a great impact on how
the story can and is being perceived. The movie offers a great deal of
background information on events that are relevant to the play. This
is an example of a big loss for ‘Educating Rita’ being a two-handed
play. By seeing the deleted scenes of the play you get a greater
understanding of the sequence of events. Being unable to see the
deleted scenes may have lead to confusion and misinterpretation
resulting in the play not achieving its full potential. The play is
much more predictable in the sense that numerous actions will not take
place on stage. For example, nothing taking place outside Frank's
office can be seen by the audience. All action is unavoidably confined
within the office. At the point in the play where Frank invites Rita
to his home for dinner the audience are not set up for anything

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dramatic this is as they already know that whatever happens will not
take place before them, but will be retold hence the dramatical effect
is lost. The movie is several scenes richer. Most of the scenes in the
film which are deleted from the play are some of the most appealing
parts in the film. For example Denny, Rita's husband strongly opposes
her spending time on education. He wants her to have a baby and become
a house-wife and throughout most of the play he is trying make her
give up her desire for education. Denny is definitely the opposition
character. In the play Rita tells Frank that Denny has burnt all her
books, and again this action is retold. In the movie we actually get
to see the anger and frenzy of Denny, which gives a much more
expressive image a deeper understanding of Rita's conflict with her

Also you get to see the other characters that have been mentioned in
the play apart from Frank and Rita and see things from their
perspective. For example, just by reading the play you get the
impression that Denny, Rita’s husband is quite an evil man, but when
you watch the film you find out that he is not as evil as the play
leads you to think. This is because in the play you only hear from
Frank and Rita’s perspective. You don’t have the opportunity to hear
all sides to the story.

In the play version of ‘Educating Rita’ the ending is in less detail
in comparison to the film. Also the ending in the film is much more
entertaining. This is another loss for the play version. In the end of
the film we get to see Frank's new haircut when he is at the airport
and Rita has come to see him off. They hug lovingly and part as
friends with smiles on their faces. What is perhaps even more
important Frank actually gets on the plane to Australia. When reading
the play there is room for doubt whether he really took the plunge to
do what he said he would, or if he just went back to his life the way
it was before he met Rita. The film expands on what happens to Frank
and gives a definite ending. Whereas in the play you don’t get a
definite ending you are faced with a cliff-hanger conclusion. In my
opinion Willy Russell should have made a definite ending as it seems
more interesting.

In my opinion Willy Russell could have added more emotion and made the
scenes more dramatic in the play. This would evoke the audience’s
emotions bringing them closer to the characters providing a greater

After noting the losses of the play ‘Educating Rita’ now I focused on
some of the gains of the pleasing play.

In Willy Russell’s play ‘Educating Rita’ there are only two
characters, this may seem imperfect, but in actual fact it good thing
as this way you can understand Frank and Rita much more. For example
in the film Frank and Rita drinking and smoking together, possessing
an abnormal tutor and student relationship is not emphasized as much
as it is in the play. The play shows Frank and Rita’s relationship
from a much deeper, meaningful context.

Russell makes his play easy to understand, straight to the point; with
just two characters you have a greater possibility of understanding
the plot as you will not be confused with issues like, to many
characters on stage or to many scene settings for you to keep up with
or even the story line changing too frequently which may happen in a
many handed play or a film. I found this to be a notable advantage of
‘Educating Rita’ being a two handed play.

A two-handed play has many advantages for just about everybody
involved. For example the audience don’t have to sit down for long as
there are only two characters therefore, it is likely the play will be
shorter in comparison to a many handed play. The production doesn’t
have to spend a lot of money as it is set in one place and there are
only two characters. This way more and more theatres would want to
take on the production of ‘Educating Rita’ as it would be cheaper to
put on enabling them to obtain a higher profit. It is possible Willy
Russell may have been taken this into consideration when he was
writing this interesting play.

In conclusion I would like to add that I found the film more
entertaining and interesting as I got to see all the characters, all
the deleted scenes as well as different scene settings which make it
seem more realistic, all the characters points of view and a more
appealing ending. As of all these reasons, included in my essay I
believe that there were more loses than gains for the play being a
two-handed play. Also ‘Educating Rita’ was portrayed in a far clearer
context in the film adaptation.
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