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A major revival of Willy Russell's play Educating Rita in London starring Tim Pigott-Smith and Laura Dos Santos and directed by Jeremy Sams, a transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory in South London.
Much to the dismay of her husband Denny, Rita, a young, brash hairdresser, has recently discovered a passion for English literature and enrols with the Open University. Her fresh, unschooled reaction to the classics challenges the attitudes of the University and her lecturer Frank who begins to question his own understanding of his work and himself.
This revival of Educating Rita in London stars Laura Dos Santos as 'Rita', reprising her role from the Menier Chocolate Factory staging. She is joined at the Trafalgar Studios by Tim Pigott-Smith as 'Frank' who takes over from Larry Lamb who performed the role at the Menier. Prior to this the production was staged, again in repertory with Shirley Valentine, at the Menier Chocolate Factory from 27 March 2010 to 8 May 2010.
"Newcomer Laura Dos Santos is faultless as the feisty, nervy Rita. It's her insatiable hunger for literature - and her ensuing essay crises - that are so touching. Frank is played by Tim Pigott-Smith, a joy as the soused tutor in a cardigan reintoxicated by the fresh air Rita brings into his stale, booklined life. The play, cleverly directed by Jeremy Sams, feels clunkier in the second half. Russell's vision of the newly emancipated Rita doesn't seem as convincingly written as the harassed young Scouse hairdresser desperate to learn. Still, both these plays are a joy to watch, both come with terrific parts for women, and both still strike a blow for the concept of thinking, popular theatre." The Mail on Sunday
"Willy Russell has been down from Liverpool to advise... reducing Educating Rita to 100 minutes straight through... Laura Dos Santos gives a fluid, lively performance as the hairdresser who wants to learn about literature - and thus, she reckons, life... But though Jeremy Sams's production lacks dynamism early on, the short scenes grow persuasive as the drama sprouts between Rita's rocky path to finding herself and Frank's bitterness. Does "education" mean losing as much as we gain? Without more sense of Frank's inner life you're rarely in much doubt that Rita is taking the right course. But, 30 years on, these snappy lines remain rewarding." The Times April 2010
Willy Russell's play Educating Rita was commissioned by the RSC and was first performed at The Donmar Warehouse in London in June 1980 in a production starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston before transferring to the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End where it enjoyed a run of just over two years, winning the Olivier Award for 'Best Comedy'. Julie Walters went on to play the role of 'Rita' in the BAFTA award winning film version opposite Michael Caine as 'Frank'. Both received BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards and Oscar nominations for their performances.
Educating Rita in London at the Trafalgar Studio 1 (in repertory with Shirley Valentine) previewed from 8 July 2010, opened on 26 July 2010 and closed on 30 October 2010.