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Educating Rita / Malvern Theatres
Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be... Educating Rita.
The show, based on the film of the same name, was at Malvern Theatres last week, starring Matthew Kelly as Frank, the alcoholic, melancholic lecturer whose outlook on life is altered somewhat when he meets Rita, played by Claire Sweeney.
The play itself is set in one room – Frank’s office – and we hear of Rita’s escapades as she sets off on a journey to find herself as she attends her weekly class of the Open University with Frank.
Sweeney shone as the rough-around-the-edges Rita but it was Kelly as Frank who really lit up the stage.
I’ll admit, I’ve never seen Kelly’s previous acting work, only his stint presenting Stars in their Eyes, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he was utterly convincing as the drunken lecturer, balancing the perfect comic timing with moments of sadness and reflection.
The audience was drawn into the pair’s complex relationship as Rita tries to distance herself from her working class heritage with the help of Frank’s tutelage, while he tries desperately to keep her the same person she was when they first met.
As Rita changes her life and her outlook of it, Frank is left behind and somewhat at a loss as her initial dependence on him appears to give his life meaning.
Kelly and Sweeney made the perfect pair on stage and despite every scene being set in the same room, each conversation which took place in it had a different impact on the characters, leaving the audience wondering what was next in store for Rita and Frank.