What is an aging, alcoholic, literary professor on his way to pasture to do when an abrasive, uneducated woman walks through his office door and announces her desire to be his student? If the student is the diamond in the rough that this woman is, the answer is simple—transform her into a blinding 18-carat gem.
And that is, for the most part, what happens in Sacramento Theatre Company’s new presentation of Willy Russell’s heartwarming and thought-provoking play, Educating Rita. Director Theresa Larkin does an outstanding job at creating not only a strong presentation, but aptly capturing the underlying psychological effects filtering through the subtext of this seemingly simple tale.
Actress Julia Brothers tackles the role of Rita, a young British woman who makes the decision that she wants more from life than a day-to-day struggle for existence, so she goes back to school against the wishes of her husband. While in the first several scenes Brothers’ performance feels more like a stand-up routine, it does well in balancing the evolution of her character from the repressed, but charming, beginning student to the well-rounded, educated young lady she blossoms into.
Anthony De Fonte takes the role of Frank, a professor and poet who has lost his passion for life and has taken up alcohol as his favorite pastime. He slowly feels himself come back to life through his interactions with the eager and unpretentious Rita.
Scene designer Tom Langguth has created a rich, intricate set, which beautifully becomes the scholarly setting needed for this production.
Educating Rita will provide audiences with an evening of fun and perhaps even a lesson or two about the differences between individualism and groupthink.