Saturday September 23rd 2017

“Educating Rita”

Shattered Globe Theatre Company seeks to inspire social discourse by raising questions for its audiences, and their current production,”Educating Rita”, written by Willy Russell fulfills this mission. Many of you may recall the movie version of this story, which as I recall was much shorter that this production, a story about a young hairdresser who becomes a private student in order to improve her somewhat lackluster life. Rita ( a solid performance by Whitney White) is married and has very little life. Her husband wants only one thing, a child, and she is not quite ready to take this major step. She wants to be a proper lady ( sound familiar?). There have been many stories about the tutor becoming the student and learning lessons in life as they teach their students. This was first performed in 1980 and while it is over 30 years old, it still plays well, but I sure wish act one were shorter than 1 1/2 hours long. In fact, the total play with a ten minute intermission is close to 2 hours -40 minutes, so a little snip here and there might just make this a more comfortable play to watch.

The teacher is played by Brad Woodard, a fine actor put into a role that he is far to young to handle. The wig they used to make him older is also distracting and takes away from the fine talent that he brings to this play. In fact, both of the players in this well directed (Richard Corley) play are wonderful character builders and as we watch them grow and learn more about the student/teacher and the relationship that develops between them as their roles in life start to change, we start to forgive the length of the script and the bad wig. The question of what is education and who in fact is the teacher and/or the student is never truly answered by Russell, but he does give us cause to think about what education truly is. If we care about the classics in theater and do not agree with others are we less educated? Don’t we all have the right to feel about things as ourselves. Should we be “objective” or “subjective” when it comes to drawing conclusions? These are just some of the ideas that we come away with and countless conversations with the others in the audience may arise from this thought provoking story.

The set by Chelsea Warren is a masterful professor’s office crammed with books ( and bottles) and lots of “things” that propmater Abbie Jacobson did a superb job with. Christopher Kriz’ sound and use of music adds a certain charm to the over all picture that Corley paints and the costumes by Joanna Melville are extraordinary ( Ms White changes costumes with every scene and always looks great). I guess what keeps this production from hitting the “recommended” stage is that it is to long and the story is unrealistic in parts. Rita becomes learned far to quickly for a person who is only being tutored once a week. I also would have preferred her not smoking ( they use fake cigarettes, so not to worry) as she evidently has never smoked and it looked as if she had never held a smoke in her life.

I applaud Shattered Globe for taking on a show of this magnitude which you can judge for yourself at The Chicago Dramatists, located at 1105 Chicago Avenue through August 14th. The performance schedule is as follows:

Thursday,Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m.- Sunday 3 p.m.

Tickets are $28 (students and seniors save $5) and are available at www.shatteredglobe.org or by phone at 773-236-0764

Public transportation makes it easy to get to Chicago Dramatists as they are Chicago/Milwaukee/Ogden ( Blue Line station) and plenty of busses and there is some street parking (metered and not)

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