Willy Russell has written the play “Educating Rita” as a two-handed play set in one room not only for financial and logistical reason. The play gains far more than just these reasons. The play’s focus is the impact the process of education has on both characters therefore there is no need for additional characters. It could be argued that being set in the same room with the same two characters would bore the audience however Willy Russell’s writing holds the attention of the audience throughout. The characters relationship changes throughout the play.
By the play being set in the room their social life isn’t really shown, but this is compensated for by the characters narrating their social life whilst in Frank’s room. In the opening scene the single set of Frank’s office is a typical example of a lectures’ room, lined with books, table covered in papers, and a taste in art with a religious picture of a naked lady, however Frank’s first actions are very ironic. He searches his book self not for a book which the audience would presume he was doing but to the audience surprise he reveals a bottle of whisky hidden behind a respectable author, Charles Dickens.
When Rita enters after a struggle with Frank’s door, which represents an obstacle in Rita’s path to being educated, she comments on the picture of a naked woman. In scene 2 Rita enters Frank’s room and despite the fact that it is in a mess, she says Rita: How do ya make a room like this? Frank: I didn’t make it. I just moved in. the rest sort of happened. Rita: Yeh. That’s cos you’ve got taste. I’m gonna have a room like this one day. There’s nothing phoney about it. Everything is in its right place.
Rita obviously admires Frank’s room and it also shows Rita’s aspirations, it shows that she is determined to work hard and become part of the middle class people. But Frank who is educated takes education for granted by drinking and not really caring about his job much. But Rita on the other hand wouldn’t take education for granted. Whereas Rita is determined to work hard and achieve her goals, however Rita’s views towards Frank’s rooms change as she gains in confidence, it becomes less important to her. This is shown when Rita says. “.. it feed me inside, I can get through the rest of the week knowing I’ve got comin’ here to look forward to.
This shows that Rita enjoys going to see Frank and without going to see him her week would be totally different. After Rita saw the Shakespeare play, the following day Rita rushed to see Frank during her lunch break desperate to tell him about her experience the previous night. When Frank invited Rita to his house for a dinner party, she failed to turn up. She tells him how she was scared and how she is not able to mix with middle class people. She says. “I’m all right here with you, here in this room, but when I saw those people you were with I couldn’t come in. ”
By Rita saying this it shows she is comfortable in Frank’s room with him. She feels secure in it. It shows how important it is compared to the other places in her life, such as the loud hairdressers, her home where arguments always occur, and the lonely pub where she lives a ‘normal life’. As I mentioned earlier Rita’s views to Frank’s room changes as she grows in confidence. Rita moves house and gets a new job without informing Frank like she used to do so. She moves into a new flat with a new flat mate called Tracy, she starts a new job at a bistro and she even talks to the students at the university more.
Rita even enjoys the work she does. When she went to the summer camp she enjoyed studying Blake. These changes make Rita think differently about Frank’s room, and she says. “Y’ need air in here, Frank. The room needs airing. ” Earlier on in the play Rita was saying to Frank how wonderfully his room was, now she is criticising it and saying it needs air in it. In Act 2 Scene 4, Rita arrives late because she is talking to people abut Shakespeare. When she does arrive to her lesson, Frank is upset because Rita hadn’t told him that she left the hairdresser.
Frank also says “There was a time when you told me everything. ” Rita enjoys being with Frank and in his room and in fact Frank’s room is a part of Frank and despite how messy it is, it still attracts Rita. Rita’s outside life is terrible, all actions that occur in her life take place off stage, this is good because such scenes as the one where Denny burns Rita’s books. This scene is a very emotional for a play which isn’t violent and it would also lose the audience focus on the main idea of the play which is the effect education has on Rita and Frank.
Everything done in the play is purposeful and other scenes in the play would have entirely lost the main focus of the play. There are also practical disadvantages and these are the obvious ones such as, a minimum amount of time for costume changes, no time for the actors to rest, also audience boredom because of the same two characters on the stage all the time, however the advantages are far greater then the disadvantages but the fact that the play consists of only two people is not a major problem.
The main thing is the content of the play and Willy Russell writes the play so brilliantly that is grabs the audiences attention and holds it throughout the play. In conclusion Rita and Frank both changed with the help of each other. They both changed for the best. It shows the process of education and how it has changed both Rita’s and Frank’s lives. Educating Rita defiantly gains far more than it loses from being a two handed play set in one room for both financial and logistical reasons. Even thought there are many disadvantages the advantages of the play are far greater and therefore make the play overall a brilliant play to read.