by Lorraine Payette, written October 3, 2014.
Rita is a challenge, not unlike Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady) or Maria (The Sound of Music). Bright, eager, dying to learn, she explodes into the life of Frank, a cynical booze-soaked professor filling and killing his hours at the local university while picking up extra money tutoring “open university” students. We strike pure gold as she who seeks a bright beautiful future made possible only by higher education runs smack up against he who has decided that it’s all a sham.
Timed perfectly for those returning to school, the play is set in the professor’s office, with years passing and life unfolding in this space. Sets and costumes are brilliantly designed by Diana Uribe, whose genius helps to convey these time changes perfectly. Rita’s (Charlotte Gowdy) appearance alters drastically over the course of the play, moving from skirts to jeans to dresses to whatever else at lightning speed. Her hair also changes – up, down, swept back – making everything seem more believable.
“I’m really enjoying it. It’s quite funny and clever,” said Anton Kaduk, Kingston. “I would definitely recommend it to audiences 14 and up. (Younger people wouldn’t get the references to university, life, etc.)”
“I think it’s great,” said Madeleine Cumming, Kingston. “They’re doing a great job. I saw the movie when it came out, and this is excellent. Much better. Both actors are so good, and her accent is wonderful. We come here often to see the plays. I’m enjoying this one very much.”
Frank (Blair Williams) goes through his own changes, but they are inward. The curmudgeon must grudgingly accept that he is more than fascinated by this amazing creature before him, and that he, too, is being educated.
“Blair’s role was obviously difficult, and Charlotte’s was impossible, yet they still pulled it off flawlessly,” said Paul Creed of Meridn, Connecticut. “They were very convincing. I would definitely recommend this play to everyone.” Creed’s experience with attending live professional theatre includes seeing Long Wharf productions in New Haven, Hartford Stage Company in Hartford and Oakdale Tavern in Wallingford, Connecticut. He felt that the quality of what he saw in Gananoque was easily on a par with these other theatres.
“I’m really enjoying it so far,” said Carling Counter, Queen’s Student. “It’s a Pygmalion type story, and as a theatre student, I find myself really paying attention to the details of the sets, costumes, lighting, etc. I would recommend it to others, especially those in the academic community.”
“I really like the script and the vignette style presentation of the different scenes,” said Morgan Anderson, Queen’s Student. “She changes in her character a little bit with each scene – you see her maturing and getting more educated. Many things are similar to what we experience at University, and I can see the changes happening in me as well. I don’t want her to change, I really like her, but you can’t warn her. It just has to happen.”
Educating Rita runs from September 26 – October 18, 2014, at the Springer Theatre, 690 Charles Street South in Gananoque, Ontario. Running time for the play is 2 hours with intermission. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 pm, with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 pm (starting the Friday after opening night). A special student matinee will be presented by the TD Bank group on October 15 at 11:00 a.m. Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors age 65+, $16 for students. HST is applicable to all ticket prices. Group tickets are available at $26 – $28 each including GST. Please note that in the tradition of Shaw, shocking language is used in the earlier portions of the play and may prove uncomfortable and inappropriate for some theatre goers. This show is recommended for people aged 14 and up due to university setting, language and ease of understanding. For more information, please go to http://www.1000islandsplayhouse.com or contact the box office at 613-382-7020.