Educating Rita at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

55 Norfolk St, Sheffield S1 1DA, UK
Shamefully, I'd never been to the theatre in lovely Sheffield, despite it only being a stone's throw away from Derbyshire. I rectified that recently by venturing up the M1 to catch Educating Rita at the Lyceum Theatre during its 2019 UK tour.

Firstly, we were twenty minutes late, as we got caught up in queues and diversions along Sheffield Parkway. As a consequence, we thought we'd be told that we couldn't enter the theatre until the interval and that we'd miss half of the show. Thankfully for us, the people up at Sheffield Theatres are really lovely and very accommodating, so they very quietly snuck us in and lead us to our seats by torchlight.

Tiny disclaimer: I'm not going to pretend that I'm great at reviewing plays, despite having a Drama degree. So, I'd highly recommend seeking out a review from someone who knows what they're talking about with regards to this piece of theatre. But, here's what I thought anyway...

Educating Rita UK Tour, 2019, Sheffield Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield Bloggers,

Thoughts on the 2019 Educating Rita UK Tour

If you're unfamiliar with the plot, you can read up on it here

I like Willy Russell's work anyway, so I think it'd have to be really bad for me to dislike this performance.

It was brilliant, actually! Captivating, funny, heartwarming.

With this play being a two-hander with a static set, I was a little worried that it'd feel stale or end up a tad boring. I needn't have worried, honestly. Relative newcomer Jessica Johnson as Rita is fantastic - funny, energetic, just scintillating. Stephen Tompkinson as Frank was equally as superb.

Their portrayals are believable, and the relatively high energy driving the piece forward helps to stop it from feeling dull, and it stops the audience from getting restless too. Timing is brilliant, both comedically and dramatically. Delivery is fantastic too - particularly Rita's droll comebacks.

Set in 1979, it doesn't feel dated. There are still so many parallels that you can draw between the time that it's set and the present day.

The characters have an almost universal appeal. I'm sure we can all relate to Rita - riddled with imposter syndrome that we're desperately trying to fight, while occasionally feeling as though we're better off conforming, despite our grand ambitions.

And everyone's encountered a Frank - a broken man who's reliant on something or other to take his mind off his perceived failures in life.

It's a heartwarming, and real tale, that has definitely stood the test of time.

As I mentioned before, the set is static. We're in Frank's office for the entirety of the play. Rita often bursts through the door, gabbing away. To give the passage of time, when she leaves the room, she often changes before re-entering. During those changes, the lights dim, and we see Frank putting props back where they were at the start of that scene as music plays over the top. It's a simple but effective way of dealing with a logistical issue like a single set gives.

If you're after a good night out, this play is for you!

If you'd like to go and see the show for yourself (and you'd better be quick because the tour is very nearly over!) you can find more information on the official website by clicking here.

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