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Nov 2008
Still crazy after all these years…. Educating Rita comes to Innsbruck

Crazy? No, but appealing certainly and pertinent any day. When the International Theatre of Vienna followed an invitation by the Austrobrits Tyrol to perform Willy Russel’s 1981 stage hit “Educating Rita” it quickly became clear that the play had lost none of its original attraction. To a large part this is due to the excellent timing and interplay of Roxanne Carless as Rita and Jack Babb as Frank. Roxanne Carless shoulders the bulk of the text with confidence and exactly the right amount of animation for each scene. Jack Babb retains a strong presence despite the jaded stance required of his character.

They are both greatly helped by the excellent script, which combines wit, sharp observation and literary insights with different social and intellectual registers as the play unfolds.

In this production Rita’s initial NW England accent is quite mild, which benefits an audience of mainly non-native speakers and which Roxanne Carless makes up for in body language. In 2008, the references to the trade unions sound a bit dated and what is left of the working class might not be as sanguine about money as Rita was in 1981. The search for a life beyond the quick fix of an evening in the pub or in front of the telly, however, is still on and the treacherous course between alienation and insight beautifully charted in Willy Russell’s play.

Brigitte Scott


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