Review: Standing ovations only for Educating Rita in Barnstaple

Stephen Tompkinson as Frank and Jessica Johnson as Rita in Educating Rita. Picture: Nobby Clark

Stephen Tompkinson as Frank and Jessica Johnson as Rita in Educating Rita. Picture: Nobby Clark - Credit: Nobby Clark

Three standing ovations met the cast of Educating Rita when it opened in Barnstaple last night (Tuesday, March 3) for a five-day run.

The classic comedy drama is at the Queen's Theatre until Saturday, March 7 as part of its 40th anniversary tour.

It stars Stephen Tompkinson (Alan Banks of television's DCI Banks fame) and Jessica Johnson as Rita.

It was just a brilliant production, very professional and a superb cast consisting of just the two actors, with the action all set in Frank's study.

Although it is the 40th anniversary year this is the first time I have actually seen Educating Rita and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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It sees married hairdresser Rita enrols on an Open University course to expand her horizons and subsequently encounter university tutor Frank.

He soon finds that his passion for literature is re-ignited by Rita, whose technical ability for the subject is limited by her lack of education, but whose enthusiasm Frank finds refreshing. The two soon realise how much they have to learn from each other.

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It is very funny in places too, with the audience responding with plenty of laughs.

Stephen Tompkinson is very good as the alcoholic professor Frank, while Jessica plays the part of Rita very well and has some great one liners.

The cast seemed genuinely surprised to return to the stage twice for two further standing ovations and perhaps not what they expected in a regional theatre.

For tickets and shows times go to or call 01271 316523.

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