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"Educating Rita has survived as a popular play in production because Willy Russell successfully combines humour with serious themes."

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Introduction

"Educating Rita has survived as a popular play in production because Willy Russell successfully combines humour with serious themes." Educating Rita, a play written in 1979, and by 1983 the fourth most popular play in Britain, remains a favourite of the British today. Based partly on his own experiences, Willy Russell created a theatrical masterpiece, remarkably with only two characters. So we ask ourselves the question: how did he accomplish this? I will explore just how the play has survived in current British culture, with hundreds of plays being written every year, yet still remaining a favourite of students, grandparents, and critics alike. I will first explore the humour within the play, and the different forms it takes. Firstly is verbal; one example can be taken from the very first scene, where Rita's boldness and Frank's obvious shocked response makes us laugh, and endears us. On stage, we have only just met Rita and Frank. We are unaware of how the two characters personalities are, and the only thing we have to judge them on is their appearance. Rita: "That's a nice picture, isn't it?" (referring to a nude painting upon his office wall) ...read more.

Middle

Rita is unhappy, and will not feel fulfilled unless she does something with her life. This is touching, and would be especially if you were part of an audience at a live performance, as you feel even more emotionally involved with the character. Not only is it a touching theme, it is an issue which is still around today, and many can relate to how Rita feels. We are all aware of the social divide that still remains in Britain, however much we are ashamed of it. Many born into poverty get caught in the "poverty trap" a vicious cycle that carries on throughout generations in families, and is ultimately very hard to escape from. We are touched by Rita's determination, her commitment, and her love for literature. This links into the theme of education, and how shockingly different the standard of education we receive makes our lives. This applies particularly in British cities today, where it is hard to attain high standard grades in comprehensives, due to lack of personal attention. However, we are also shocked by Frank's unhappiness, even though he has everything Rita is desperate for. He proves that Many theatre goers may be able to relate to either Frank or Rita's situation, students may relate to Rita's passion ...read more.

Conclusion

The emotions and situations they go through are extremely realistic and we can all relate to either Frank or Rita in a way. It should also be considered that many of the people going to see this play would be English literature students, and could relate to the play in that sense. Literary students could also appreciate the well written dialogue, including the balance between humour and emotional content I have been discussing. I personally believe that the play has lasted for over 30 years because the themes its contains can be related to almost any adult in Britain over the last 30 years. Almost everyone has dealt with one of the problems presented within the play, yet it has been written with such skill that it is not too heavy, and the comedis elements involved make it thoroughly enjoyable. The balance of humour and serious issues is perfect, and Russell is obviously a very talented scriptwriter, also shown by his highly acclaimed (especially by myself) "Blood Brothers" in which he explores the theme of social divide again. Both the characters are unique and original, and we are entranced by their relationship in particular. The cliffhanger ending and serious issues involved leave an impression upon us, and we continue to think about the play long after seeing it or reading it. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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