Review: Educating Rita at Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield

Brian Capron and  Jennifer Daley in Educating Rita at the Pomegranate, Chesterfield
Brian Capron and Jennifer Daley in Educating Rita at the Pomegranate, Chesterfield

One of the best jokes in Educating Rita revolves around E M Forster’s signature line ‘Only connect’; the play is at its best when the actors do exactly that.

One of the best jokes in Educating Rita revolves around E M Forster’s signature line ‘Only connect’; the play is at its best when the actors do exactly that.

The connection shines through Talking Scarlet’s new production at the Pomegranate this week, between Jennifer Daley as Rita, the hungry Open University student, and Brian Capron as Frank, the jaded tutor.

Daley transforms from gawky mini-skirt and scarlet stilettos to self-possessed African print dress and serious hair without losing any of her energy and freshness. Capron handles Frank’s losing battle with booze like a veteran. They bat Willy Russell’s shrewd, witty dialogue to and fro like a game of top-class verbal tennis.

The play has almost achieved classic status, as bracing and relevant now as when it made its first appearance over 30 years ago. It needs no new approach, or innovative staging; a book-lined study with crevices for Frank’s bottles still works just fine, and odd references to satellite TV and karaoke bring it into the 21st century.

Educating Rita is at the Pomegranate until Saturday, November 9, 2013.

LYNNE PATRICK