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In What Ways Is "Educating Rita" By Willy Russell Effective As A Play?

1546 words - 6 pages

'Educating Rita" is dramatically effective in many ways. It is also recognised as an exceptional play; it was voted "Best comedy of the year" when performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1980, and just three years after release, it had become the fourth most popular play in Britain. There are obviously factors which make it so effective, and I intend to explore these factors.Throughout the play, there are only two characters: this is known as a two-hander. Other characters are only mentioned in the play, but in the film have been cast as parts. It worked well for the film, but I think it lost the closeness which plays such an important part in the theatre. Some people would find this to be tedious, but I think it adds to the intensity and intimacy between the audience and the characters.There is a focus on the two characters which means that the audience can appreciate the relationship between Rita and Frank which is emphasised more than it would be with other characters, and would notice any subtle changes that occur in the play. For example, when Rita starts to use the correct form of speech for talking about literature and uses a higher standard of English. You can see this in Act I, Scene 4 when Frank and Rita were talking about her "Peer Gynt" essay where her response was "Do it on the radio." Frank could not believe what she had written as her entire essay, and in her defense Rita says, "I didn't have much time this week, so I sort of, y'know, encapsulated all me ideas in one line."The audience familiarise with Frank and Rita and we can see more closely what they are feeling and thinking because we know them better. We understand that Rita feels that she is stuck in the lower class and she wants to better herself by "changing from the inside" and taking Literature classes. Frank is a tired, middle-aged man and he can see that the world is passing by but he cannot be bothered to do anything about it. He drinks to try and suppress this feeling: "Life is such a rich and frantic whirl that I need the drink to help me step delicately through it." Both characters are stuck in a rut, but Rita wants to change her situation and is making the effort to achieve that change.We can also sympathise with Rita and Frank because of the closeness between audience and characters, and so this can make otherwise trivial circumstances seem more significant, such as when Rita appeared for her tutorial carrying a suitcase after Denny presented her with an ultimatum - her mood has completely changed from how she normally behaves; she is pensive and downcast. She left Denny because she said she needed to carry on with her lessons, and this setback only made her even more determined to continue. If we did not have the intimacy that having a focus of only two characters provides, we would not realise that this was an extremely important moment or fully comprehend how great a change it was for her.The beginnings and endings of scenes in "Educating Rita" are...

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