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Under 26? Get an up close and personal look at Educating Rita for just a fiver at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.

19th April 2017
Posted by Ros Connors

To encourage more young people to engage with live theatre, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch has launched a fantastic scheme that enables young people to see its next huge comedy, Educating Rita for just a fiver.

Theatre goers aged 25 and under will be able to fully immerse themselves in a theatrical experience unlike any other by sitting on stage for just £5 (reduced from up to £26). £5 doesn’t go very far these days, so for an evening’s entertainment it’s a bargain!

For the first time in Queen’s Theatre history, the stage will be extended into the auditorium to offer a truly unique and intimate setting. Every night audiences will be able to lose themselves in a piece of terrific theatre by sitting alongside the actors on stage. The comfort of this fantastic experience isn’t compromised as the onstage seating will be the same as those sitting in the stalls. This is a rare viewing experience not to be missed!

Willy Russell’s hilarious yet moving comedy, Educating Rita follows the story of a hairdresser wanting to better herself with higher education. Frank becomes her assigned tutor, but grudgingly accepts the challenge. Slowly, Frank realises that his enthusiastic student has much to teach him too – making him question himself, his work and his very being in the process.


If you’ve seen the film starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters, then you’ll know it features a much larger ensemble than Willy Russell’s original stage version which is a two-hander set in one room.

Although very witty, this production at the Queen’s didn’t have me splitting my sides with laughter. It did have me chuckling and I did find it poignant in places and it was relevant, probably because I was of a similar age to Rita in that period of the early 1980’s.  Also because I come from a similar background to her, is maybe why it chimes with me. It was a time though when people of my ilk went into the blue-collar sector and made do. We did not go to university, or even think about embarking on courses about English literature, perhaps not straight away anyway. The somewhat uncouth, but instantly likable Rita is unique then in this aspect. Danielle Flett gives us a rousing performance as Rita who is portrayed here as an ‘Essex Girl’ rather than a Liverpudlian and this is where Danielle sparkles like a glass of fizzy wine, with her plethora of colourful clothes, and big attitude to boot.  She almost instantly overwhelms Frank, the somewhat shambolic Irish course tutor, who is constantly shuffling around his untidy study that has books all over the floor. He is oft seen, shirt hanging out, and on his knees while looking for papers. Instead he discovers various hidden bottles of whiskey – much to his delight, and therefore cannot resist the odd swig here and there. Frank is ably played by Irish actor Ruairi Conaghan who is dressed in his well worn tweed suit, sporting a beard while looking an untidy sort of high-brow. He would not have looked out of place on one of those Open University television programmes on BBC2 back in the day. His very obvious problem with drink is conveyed with humour, but comes across as sad rather than funny.

Ros Philips directs which means there is plenty of movement by the two characters around the set, and if you purchase a ticket to view from one of the choice seats on the stage itself (as I viewed the show), you will be close enough to smell the whiskey, the cigarettes, and also count the number of bits of fluff on Frank’s jacket. A warning that there is some strong language.


Ros Connors


Gateway 97.8

Educating Rita runs at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch from 22 April – 13 May. To take advantage of this brilliant offer, under 26s should call the Box Office on 01708 443333 and quote ‘Under 26 offer’. Please note the production is suitable for people aged 12+ as it contains some strong language.

Hear Ros Connors chatting to the show’s Director Ros Philips and Actor Ruairi Conaghan who plays ‘Frank’ by clicking the link below.