Educating Rita

Date 5th October 2022
Society Chesil Theatre (Winchester Dramatic Society)
Venue Chesil Theatre, Winchester
Type of Production Play
Director Terrance Lohr
Sound Tony Rogers
Set Design David James
Producer Mike Robinson
Written By Willy Russell


Author: Mark Allen

Greeted, as usual, by the friendly front of house team, I took my seat with great anticipation. Educating Rita, written by Willy Russell, is a piece well known by most from the film starring Julie Walters and Michael Caine. It was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespear Company and won the Laurence Olivier Award for comedy in 1980! It tells the story of a bored young Liverpool hairdresser, Rita, and Frank, a long in the tooth Open University lecturer with a penchant for a scotch (or several...).

The set, the inside of Frank's University office, was simple in its design but effectively laid out with a library of books (hiding the drink), easy chair, desks, lovely big windows with a country scene outside and filing cabinets, all the things you would expect to find in a 1980's office and making full use of Chesil Theatre's limited size. The set was very well lit and the sound, clear and easy.

The whole play features only two characters, Rita, played by Francesca Waters and Frank, Gary Nicholson. Francesca's fast paced, Scouse accent was clear and precise, the diction was of a very high standard. I could hear all that was being said and followed the story without any problems. Gary's portrayal of a miserable old curmudgeon, who had had far more than enough of teaching, was very believable and the chemistry and dynamic between the pair meant that they had obviously been well rehearsed and well directed by Terrance Lohr.

Being that this is a two hander, the amount of lines learned and delivered without mistakes is astonishing, very well done to both. I have seen quite a few plays that Chesil deliver, each one is of a very high standard. This is no exception. I overheard a couple in front wondering whether Gary and Francesca were professionals. This was a show I enjoyed immensely, was of very high quality - aother triumph for Chesil. Bravo.