For the opening of educating Rita, Russell needs to entertain and interest his audience, however, he also needs to quickly introduce his characters: Frank, a university teacher in his early fifties, bored with his life and Rita, a badly educated hairdresser with a thirst for knowledge. Russell begins “Educating Rita” with Frank searching frantically in his bookcase, muttering the names of famous authors under his breath as he searches for what the audience imagines to be a book. However, to our surprise, Frank jubilantly pulls out a bottle of Whisky and pours himself a drink. This tells us that Frank, perhaps has a drinking problem.
Russell then uses the interesting medium of a one sided telephone conversation between Frank and someone we expect to be his wife or girlfriend. This entertains the audience as they are wondering what the person on the other end of the line is saying. We become more accustomed to Frank”s character. The telephone conversation is also humorous : “Darling, you could incinerate ratatouille and still it wouldn”t burn” and ” What do you mean am I determined to go to pub? I don”t need determination to get me into a pub”. Rita”s entrance in the scene is a critical moment. She knocks twice on the door although Frank yells at her to come in.
Eventually she bursts into the room swearing and using common language this contrasts with Franks very upper class English ” I”m comin” in, aren”t I? It”s that stupid bleedin” door. You wanna get it fixed! “. This is very dramatic as we are made to wait for Rita”s entrance and she doesn”t walk meekly into the room as we would expect a student, having her first meeting with a teacher, to do. She takes a commanding role and is telling Frank what to do. Frank is shocked and surprised and the audience is amused at this apparent role reversal with the student dominating the teacher.
He immediately tries to regain his position of authority ” You are? “, this is a very upper class phrase and Rita, unused to such language takes this phrase literally, “What am I? ” Frank gets confused and so it continues until Frank gives up and studies the admission papers. This confusion is funny and we see that it is useless for Frank to try to gain any authority over Rita since she is at the college because she wants to be and wants to do things in her own way. Rita then alerts Frank to a painting and asks him if he thinks it”s erotic. Frank is obviously surprised and mutters something about not having looked at it for ten years.
Rita, however, does not give up. “Look at those tits” Frank, slightly embarrassed and shocked coughs and engrosses himself in looking at the admission papers again. This shows the contrast between Frank and Rita”s classes and backgrounds: Frank has probably never been approached like this before and being upper class doesn”t talk about anything to do with sex or nudity openly. Frank is also shocked about being asked such a question from a complete stranger. Russell makes his opening interesting and entertaining with comedy. The audience is eager to see more and has a good idea of Frank and Rita”s characters.