‘Educating Rita’ shines a spotlight on local talent

By Ian Swaby

On Thursday, Jan. 24, the Cayman Drama Society enters fresh territory with “Educating Rita”, a dramatic comedy helmed entirely by a cast of two actors.

Adam Roberts and Soraya Moghadass star in this respected piece by British playwright Willy Russell. It tells the story of the transforming relationship between Rita, a hairdresser eager to break free from her superficial social world through a university education, and Frank, an English literature professor and failed poet who turns to alcohol to assuage his disenchantment with his life.

Many will recognise the play from the film of the same name starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters.

At the same time “Educating Rita” is sure to entertain audiences through the witty, rapid-fire interplay between the two actors, it will also tug at the heartstrings through its serious themes of finding one’s place and searching for enlightenment that may not always appear close at hand.

Adam, once highly active in drama during high school and university, resumed acting in 2006, and has since appeared in countless and widely varied CDS roles such as Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray”, staged in 2012, and Otto Frank in “The Diary of Anne Frank”, staged in 2018.

Soraya has participated in theatre since age five, and quickly joined CDS after her arrival on island in 2013. She has acted in numerous CDS productions including “Not Now Darling” and “Playhouse Family Christmas”, where she annually appears as Rudolph.

It was, in fact, the actors themselves who were behind the idea to bring “Educating Rita” to the stage. Both Soraya and Adam anticipated the performance for years but felt that this year was finally the chance to make it a reality.

“I wanted to be in it because I love the play, and I just thought it would be a bit different for the CDS to put it on,” Adam explained. “So, we floated it and we got the go-ahead, and we’ve really enjoyed it.”

Soraya expressed a sense of identification with her character, remarking “I feel like she’s just a young girl who gets told what to do all the time in different directions by society, and as a young woman, I think we have that pressure still in this day and age.”

The minimalistic set of characters creates a unique opportunity for these local actors to showcase their talent.

“It’s one of those plays that if you get the opportunity to be in, you don’t pass it up, because there’s only two characters, so you’re either the lead man or the lead woman, and it’s a pretty great achievement to do that,” Soraya said.

The production is helmed by first-time director Fayane De Freitas, with Paul Njoka as assistant director. Both have been involved in past CDS productions, with Paul having directed Fayane in last year’s “Barefoot in the Park.”

“I think it’s a great play,” remarks Fayane. “The first time I saw it, it left that impression with me all those years. And I think to be able to do it, it’s great. It’s all about true life, right? And how people can react and change in different circumstances. So, it’s a play that anybody will enjoy.”

Indeed, audiences are sure to find that the timeless messages conveyed through a journey both dramatic and humorous still resonate with them today.

Parents are advised to use discretion, as the play contains strong language.

“Educating Rita” runs from tomorrow, Jan. 24, to Jan. 26, and is also presented on Jan. 31, Feb. 1, and Feb. 2. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults at $15 for students. For more information, visit cds.ky