Two phenomenal actors, portraying characters of totally different walks of life: Rita (Murielle Zuker) and Frank (Adrian Neil) shine onstage in Theatre 40's production of "Educating Rita," by British playwright Willy Russell. The two leads, who seemingly have nothing in common, seem to be symbiotically paired, virtually unable to thrive and grow without one another. Zuker and Neil are the definition of chemistry, as their personas mesh and true chemistry sparks onstage.
Educating Rita is based on the pygmalian story, which inspired My Fair Lady, one of the most popular musicals of all time. The story concerns Frank, an adjunct, rumpled professor who reluctantly lends his time to British bumpkin Rita, from working class London. Frank, oblivious to the realities crashing around him, is immersed in his studies, the set, being his room, full of bookcases, a typical academic setup. He's a literary coach, and at a knock on the door, Rita enters the scene. She's an unsophisticated hairdresser, enthralled by his erotic paintings on the wall, full of energy, taking it all in. Frank observes her aura, and emphatically states, "You're the first breath of fresh air to walk in here." She replies, "I want to discover me-self." In the next scene, the audience finds her humorously stating, "I'm off me cake.. there's stress in me life." In their constant interplay and banter about E.M. Forster, and Howard's End, she's a ball of fire, as he pulls out a book from his shelf, with a bottle of booze hidden within. Frank's supreme weakness is revealed: his love of the sauce.
In the second act, Frank reveals he wishes he had met Rita 20 years ago. The recurring theme of this story is these two characters are truly unaware of their potential within. He is a brilliant poet, yet earnestly struggles to realize his own brilliance. She yearns for the cultured life, "not just going to the opera, but a way of being..."
Expressing her joie de vivre and inner creativity, she presents him with a personal gift - she cuts his hair, exclaiming, "this will make you look younger..." The two complement, inspire, and engage each other, in turn engaging and enchanting the audience. This colorful production is yet again a wonderful example of the brilliance offered by Theatre 40 (running in repertory with "The Love List.")
Through June 23
Theatre 40 Reuben Cordova Theatre 241 S Moreno Drive Beverly Hills
Saturdays 8PM (June 21), Sundays, 7PM (June 15& 22,), Mondays 8PM June 16 & 23, Tuesdays 8PM June 17