Opening Scene of Educating Rita
Explore the ways in which Russell engages the audiences interest in
the main characters and themes in the opening scene of Educating Rita
and explain whether you think the play written in 1979 is still
relevant to 2005.
Willy Russell’s play, Educating Rita, written in 1979, is a story
about a typical lower class woman called Rita who decides she wants to
lead an ‘educated life’ and she tries to do this by getting a private
tutor called Frank to teach her, but learning to lead an educated
life proves to be not what she expected.
Willy Russell introduces Frank and Rita in two very different ways.
Frank is introduced as a well read university tutor who seems to like
his drink; this is shown when Russell writes ’the walls are lined with
books’ making him appear educated. But then writes: “pulls out a pile
of books to reveal a bottle of whisky” which makes the audience
question their first impression of him as a typical university
teacher, is he an alchoholic? Does he drink too much? Is this
Rita is introduced as an uneducated, loud, rude young woman. The first
impression Russell gives the audience is Rita saying: “I’m comin’ in,
aren’t I?” to someone she has never met before, which shows a lack of
manners or simply a casual upbringing. He then shows her going to a
chair and “dumping her bag”. By using the verb “dump” Russell
immediately suggests that Rita is not a ladylike person, and this
follows the impression that she is ill mannered.
Russell presents the play as a two-hander so that the audience is
focused on the clash between Frank and Rita and the entire play is
focused on Frank and Rita’s point of view. The two very contrasting
personalities seem to create humour, and this humour is introduced
without the need of jokes or puns, merely the difference between two
people this humour sparks off an interest to the audience which would
keep the audience engaged, wanting to find out what might happen
between them, will the end up fighting? How will they get on?
The language styles of the two characters are differing in the way
that Rita uses slang and swears and speaks inappropriately considering
she is in a study in a university she uses word like ‘Look at those
tits’ when she is talking about the religious painting on the wall
also she swears in mid conversation like it is accepted as a norm she
abbreviates her sentences “that‘s fuckin’ rubbish“ and “D‘ y‘ get a
lot like me?” this shows she has a strong Liverpudlian accent and
makes her seem more like a typical lower class Liverpudlian . Frank
speaks properly and uses words like ‘darling’ which shows he is upper
class and speaks properly to people, darling is something which is
stereotyped as a posh...