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August 5th - August 10th
When married hairdresser Rita enrols on a university course to expand her horizons, little does she realise where the journey will take her.
Her tutor Frank is a frustrated poet, brilliant academic and dedicated drinker, who’s less than enthusiastic about taking Rita on, but the two soon realise how much they have to teach each other.
This hilarious and heart-warming comedy won the Olivier award when it was produced in London’s West End by the RSC and was adapted into the multi award winning film which starred Julie Walters and Michael Caine.
Written by one of our greatest ever playwrights Willy Russell and starring one of our best loved actors Stephen Tompkinson as Frank, introducing Jessica Johnson as Rita.
Running time: Approx. 2 hours 10 minutes, including a 15-minute interval.
Production photographs by Robert Day
Choice Radio Worcester
One of Willy Russell's plays seems to come around with great regularly - Blood Brothers - whilst another sits quietly remembered as a film. So it's with great pleasure to see that Educating Rita is currently on tour and visiting Malvern this week. But who could possibly take the roles played in the film version by Michael Caine and Julie Walters?
Step forward Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson as professor and student in a two-hander played out on a single set representing Frank's office-cum-lecture room, chock full of the books of his profession but which also conceal his hidden secret.
When Rita - a hairdresser - visits the professor for an Open University interview, Frank is somewhat non-plussed. What can he possibly do for her in terms of her desire to "learn everything"? Especially as he is in a job which he is doing only for the extra money and not for the love it. Rita's desire to learn about and be confident in talking about poetry and literature spurs him on to take this student seriously until the time when she effectively no longer needs him. But the path to getting there is littered with difficulties - a dislike of fellow students, problems at home, the hidden bottles of whisky, the extent of which only comes to light at the very end...
Russell's skill as a scriptwriter is clear in the show, as it is dependent purely on the interaction between the two characters and how this relationship changes over the two hours. And very funny it is too as it is made up of smaller set pieces as time moves on rather than a continuous story with only an interval.
Jessica Johnson is excellent as the Scouser wanting to better herself and Stephen Tompkinson is perfect as the professor, slipping very comfortably into the role with his characteristic hangdog facial expressions, looking the part of a college professor and thoroughly believable in his corduroy jacket with his unkempt hair. In fact, he is that convincing that you could easily believe that the part was written for him.
This is his second visit to Malvern this year as he was previously here in the production of Art. And judging by the response of the audience, he will be made very welcome in his next show.
And we can all learn something from the play too - never forget that "Assonance is getting the rhyme wrong"!
If your lucky to get a ticket well done if not get one, it was superb and great acting well done, go see asap
Top marks to Malvern Theatre for the opportunity to see Educating Rita. Superb acting from Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson. Brilliantly directed and a night to remember ! The wonderful staff were happy to chat and make me feel welcome. Have been quite a few times but I always look forward to my next visit to the Malvern Theatre. A real gem !
Brilliant! This was outstanding at so many levels. Of course, there's the excellent humorous moments but the superb performances by Stephen Tomkinson and Jessica Johnson bring out so much more: Willy Russell's insights into the position of women and how women talk about it; the development of characters and the relationship between the two people; the effect that her education has on Rita's outlook on life. For me, the way in which it shows how she is educated and how literary criticism changes her abilities to think for herself is so well presented that every English student should see this production. The costumes were great; the set just right; the subtlety of the moves from scene to scene contributed so well to the pace - I was absorbed from start to finish!
This play is fabulous. Stephen Tomkinson is splendid as always and the performance by Jessica Johnson is magnificient. She is magnetic, brilliant and completely enthralls. I can't wait to see her in action again. A superb play that totally engaged and was a joy to see. Thank you!
Excellent fantastic acting, wonderful
experience,2 great actors can't praise this enough - 2 hours on stage wow
Amazing performance!! Both actors were excellent!!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it!!
Congratulations on an excellent production.
Brilliant 2 hander - they nailed it and deserved their standing ovation.
One word sums this Play up and it's
Stephen Tompkinson and Jennifer Johnson gave Brilliant performances and if you havnt Booked yet do it Know you will love it.
It was great to see Stephen again at Malvern Lets hope it's not to long before he Returns.
I wondered how anyone could fill the shoes of Julie Walters but my goodness, Jessica Johnson did so brilliantly. Stephen Tompkinson is tremendous in this part as he is in all his characters. I always think he becomes the character and he certainly did. I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend this play. The set was brilliant, the sound perfect and the production great. A very enjoyable experience. Thank you.