The Scotsman 3 March 2023

Willy Russell’s Educating Rita is a comedy about a clash of cultures. On one hand, there is Frank, the worldly professor, bookish and secure. On the other, there is Rita, street-smart but uneducated, knowing more about hairdressing than the classics.

It is easy to imagine a parallel with the actors. In the forthcoming revival for Perth Theatre, Frank is played by Gray O’Brien, whose 30-odd years in the profession include long-running stints in Coronation Street (as bad-guy Tony Gordon), Peak Practice, Casualty and River City. He emerged from drama school in Glasgow at around the same time as such talents as actor David Tennent and director David McVicar.

By contrast, Rita is played by Rachael-Rose McLaren, who is at the start of her career, notwithstanding the powerful impression she made in last year’s National Theatre of Scotland production of Enough Of Him by May Sumbwanyambe. But according to O’Brien, theirs is no teacher-pupil relationship. “Certainly not,” he says. “She’s teaching me everything.” [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).