Educating Rita @The Lowry

Educating Rita opens the autumn 2013/winter 2014 programme from the Library Theatre Company at The Lowry in Salford.

By Matthew Tyas | Last updated 4 October 2013

Share this story

Willy Russell’s hilarious comedy with big ideas and an even bigger heart, Educating Rita, about two seemingly opposite people – Rita, a full-on 100mph hairdresser who sees returning to education as a way to a more rewarding life, and Frank, the jaded university lecturer who is about to have his comfortable but tired existence blown apart by his new student – opens the autumn 2013/winter 2014 programme from the Library Theatre Company at The Lowry in Salford.

Educating Rita

The production opens on Thursday 26 September, runs until Saturday 12 October 2013, and will be directed by Chris Honer, the company’s Artistic Director, who says: “Educating Rita is a glorious comedy about the transforming power of culture. It seemed an excellent idea to revive the play, particularly at a time when the value of arts education itself appears to be disputed in some quarters.”

Brash and ballsy straight-talking hairdresser Rita is determined to change her life. She wants to know ‘everything’ and she thinks the Open University might just be the answer. World-weary, alcohol-fuelled lecturer Frank is a failed poet, a self-acknowledged ‘appalling teacher of appalling students’. In fact, he’s just about given up. In need of extra cash, he agrees to tutor Rita, totally unaware of
the whirlwind that’s about to enter his world…

She wants to know ‘everything’ and she thinks the Open University might just be the answer.

The unlikely pair form a life-changing bond as Rita starts to find herself, and Frank finds a whole new lease of life. Touching, life-affirming, and extremely funny, Educating Rita is a comic masterpiece from one of our best-loved writers.

Taking the role of Rita is Liverpool-born Gillian Kearney, who is well known to Manchester theatre audiences from roles in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals, and Rod Wooden’s Your Home in the West, all at the Royal Exchange. Her extensive list of roles at theatres throughout the country includes a highly praised appearance in the title role of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2006.

Gillian’s extensive list of TV credits include stints as Jessica Harrison in BBC1’s Casualty; Debbie McGrath in Brookside; and Sue in Shameless, both on Channel 4. She also starred as Ellie in the BBC’s six-part mini-series Sex, Chips & Rock ‘n’ Roll, alongside Sue Johnston, Phil Daniels, and David Threlfall, one of her fellow Shameless cast members, who was also in Your Home in the West. Gillian was also, as a budding young teenager, in the film version of Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine!

Appearing opposite Gillian as Frank is Preston-born Philip Bretherton, who is returning to the Library Theatre Company for the first time since appearing in the company’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Joking Apart in March 1990 at the Forum Theatre in Wythenshawe, also directed by Chris Honer. His other major theatre credits include George in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Kitteridge in John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, both at Manchester’s Royal Exchange; and Professor Higgins in Pygmalion at Theatr Clwyd.

A graduate of Manchester University, Philip is equally well-known as a familiar face on British TV, having played Alistair Deacon in nine series of BBC1’s hugely popular sit-com As Time Goes By; scheming football manager Stefan Hauser, a role loosely based on former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, in ITV’s hit drama Footballers’ Wives; and car sales manager Ian Davenport, who had an affair with Sally, in ITV’s Coronation Street.

Please note there is strong language and smoking on stage in Educating Rita.

Thursday 26 September – Saturday 12 October 2013.

Monday-Saturday 7.15pm; matinees Saturdays 28 Sept, 5 and 12 Oct; Thursdays 3 and 10 Oct 2.30pm.