Review: Educating Rita by Willy Russell

I have to admit, I had not thought of this play for a long time--not since early university in fact--and I was pleasantly surprised when I found a copy available for sale in the modern classic section at QBD. I snatched the copy up, brought it home and read it within a couple of hours. As an adult reading this for the second time around, I was quite charmed about the story of working class hairdresser Susan (who prefers to be called Rita,) and her initially reluctantly open university tutor, Frank. Over the course of the year, it becomes obvious that Susan/Rita's life and career prospects are improving, while Frank's own life and career is on the decline. The play examines what it means to be educated and the ending looks at what it means to have a choice--we know that Frank is on his way to Australia, but we do not know what will happen to Rita/Susan. Will she return to her husband, will she remain on her own and continue her education or (the least probably of all her choices,) will she accept Frank's invitation and go to Australia with him. 

Though short, the play is quite enjoyable and it is a reminder of how education can free us and allow greater room for choices, though as Frank's character shows success may not always equal happiness. A thought provoking quick read. 


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