Brilliantly acted and considerately staged, the Watermill’s production of Educating Rita awakens the audience like a rush of fresh air from an open door on a crisp clear winter day. It is funny, thought-provoking and so fastly paced from the start that the audience hardly has time to draw breath.
Timothy Bentinck and Claire Lams in Educating Rita at the Watermill Theatre Photo: Mike Eddowes
Tim Bentinck as Frank is perfect as the alcoholic professor who fights his conscience, not only on a sexual plane but more significantly on an academic level. As he tries to balance the value of Rita’s education against her naïve uniqueness, his crucial realisation that her personality is being quashed by her thirst for knowledge is both pathetic and poignant.
Claire Lams as Rita gushes onstage with words tumbling out of her mouth in a fine Liverpudlian accent and hardly seems to come up for air. She is excellent in her characterisation, with brilliant timing, and she strongly controls the emotional development of the role. Her invigorating performance sits comfortably on the shelf alongside the many recognised actresses who have played Rita over the years.
Set design by Andrew D Edwards creates an accurate account of organised chaos. The cast’s dialect coach is Joan Washington and Jamie Glover’s direction is generally faultless.