Educating Rita returns to its home town

Share Button
Leanne Best and Con O'Neil star in Educating Rita ©Dan Kenyon

Leanne Best and Con O’Neil star in Educating Rita. Pic © Dan Kenyon

This week sees the return of Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’ as it celebrates its 35th anniversary at the Liverpool Playhouse.

Featuring Liverpool’s own Leanne Best and Con O’Neil, both rising stars in the acting world, the production will be the first to be staged professionally in Liverpool for 13 years.

Local playwright Willy Russell said: “I’m really delighted to be back at the Playhouse, a theatre with which I’ve had such a long and fulfilling association.

“I’m equally delighted to be working with Gemma Bodinetz and the great cast she has assembled – both Leanne Best and Con O’Neill are superb actors and it’s a real pleasure to have them perform the play here in Liverpool where both their (and my) careers began.”

Best portrays Rita, a woman unhappy with the routine of her day-to-day life and who wishes to enrich her mind by attending an Open University course in English Literature. It is here that she meets her alcoholic tutor, Frank – played by O’Neil. The play follows the relationship between the young Liverpudlian working-class hairdresser, and university lecturer Frank whilst exploring key themes such as the development of personal relationships, freedom and change.

In 1983, Willy Russell adapted the play for a film starring Michael Caine, Julie Walters and Maureen Lipman. It won multiple awards for best actor and best actress and was nominated for three Oscars.

Artistic Director Bodinetz said: “Educating Rita is rightly acknowledged to be one of the great plays of the 20th Century. To be directing it in its home city with such a remarkable cast, both of whom began their careers here, is an honour and a joy.”

The production runs at the Williamson Square venue from Friday 6th February to Saturday 7th March.

About Angharad Millington, JMU Journalism