Theatre / Educating Rita

Educating Rita is a stage comedy by British playwright Willy Russell.

A working-class girl from Liverpool wants to improve herself by studying literature. Her assigned Open University professor is Frank, an alcoholic. Rita struggles to maintain her relationships with her working class peers while trying to fit in with the educated middle-class. Rita's belief that the educated have better lives and are happier people is challenged throughout the script.

A film version was made in 1983 starring Julie Walters, Michael Caine, and Maureen Lipman.

Tropes in Educating Rita:

  • Alcohol Hic: In the movie version, Frank lets one out when he shows up drunk to a lecture, much to the amusement of his students. It goes downhill from there.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Movie version: Rita separates from Frank fondly, and has a chance for a much better paying job in London.
  • Blessed with Suck: Rita's education is shown to be this.
  • Book Safe: The professor hides his whiskey behind a book.
  • Children Are a Waste: Rita doesn't want to become locked into looking after a child - her husband wants her to have a child as soon as possible, and gets angry when he finds her birth control pills.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Rita is nervous in her final exam, and follows her professor's advice about essay writing.
  • Downer Ending: At the end, Rita is in an uncomfortable position: her education puts her above her working-class peers, but her accent and manner do not fit into the middle-class strata of society.
  • Gossipy Hens: The women around Rita are superficially seen to be these. Her roommate in the film also has varying degrees of this.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Rita's Roommate.
  • Pygmalion Plot
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Rita's husband doesn't think she should be learning, and tears up her homework when he finds where it is hidden.
  • Stepford Smiler (Type A) : Rita realized her mother was unhappy with her life and is trying not to go into a miserable relationship and do something with her life.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Rita's professor lectures her in a one-on-one session when she feels hopeless.