The play ‘Our Day Out’ by Willy Russell depicts how the kids in the poorer parts of the country live. In the book a group of ‘progress class’ children are taken on a trip to Conway Castle. On the trip the also visit the zoo, the beach and the funfair. All of the children have an enjoyable day out and even some of the more irritable teachers enjoy themselves. In the play, life is portrayed as very different in the countryside compared to life in the city. The level of traffic and pollution, the “Cold cruel streets” of the city appear to be forgotten about and personalities seem to change once the school party enter the countryside.
One of the teachers, Mr Briggs, begins to have fun as the day progresses and shows some understanding for the children, something you do not normally see in him. In Liverpool, the children do not appear to have very much in life and this is often portrayed in the play. The city is shown as a run down, gloomy place. The children think this as well. “It’s bleedin horrible when you look at it isn’t it? ” says Riley to Linda on the coach journey home. Most of the kids are not embarrassed or ashamed to talk about Liverpool freely, however, are sad to live there.
In the play, a teacher named Briggs, who can be quite irritable, is told to join the other teachers on the trip to keep an eye on things. The other teachers are not best pleased about this but their views are kept to themselves and they try to get on with things as usual. When Mrs Kay brings up the idea for the kids to go to the zoo, he is not best pleased. However, Mrs Kay points out that the kids may as well enjoy themselves whilst at school as when they leave they are most likely to be unemployed. “The kids should have a good day,” she says. The future for these children is uncertain.
This is reflected in a conversation between two of the teachers, Briggs and Mrs Kay in which Briggs is clearly not hopeful for the children’s future and what a day in Wales will achieve. “It’s too late for them”, states Briggs, “Most of them were rejects the day they were born. ” Mrs Kay accepts the odds are against them but it is clearer as to why. She talks about how difficult it is to prepare them for work, when there are not the same opportunities for them now as there were ten years ago. “You could teach them to stand in line,” She says, “You could teach them to obey, to expect a little more than a factory job.
However, know they do not even have that to aim for most of them were born to factory fodder but the factories have closed down now. The boredom in the city due to lack of parks and public places the children can enjoy. The play describes how in the city most property is vandalised or run down. This is shown when Carol says, “That’s why we never have nothin’ nice round our way – cos we’d just smash it up. ”
She says that no-one spends money on things just for kids in the city because they know they won’t look after them, like the trees on Pilot street that the kids chopped down and burnt “Last bommy night. Another character, Andrews, argues that maybe if something like Conway Castle was given to the kids they would look after it, because it would belong to them. The depression also shows as most of the kids in the city want to leave it, “Isn’t it horrible, eh, miss?…… all the thingy like. The dirt an’ that. ”
This quote is from Carol, it shows how when the kids look at the city it saddens them and makes them want to leave. Carol also asks Mrs. Kay if whether she worked hard enough whether she might be able to live, “… n one of them nice places. ” She describes a place with gardens and trees, somewhere different to what she is used to. Being in the city makes the kids feel like they are trapped. This is because they know that they will not do well at school and they will have little or no prospect of a job. When Briggs and Carol are on the cliff top Briggs tries to tell Carol that if she does well in school she could get a job and move away but Carol replies, “Don’t be bloody stupid. ” This shows how even the children are aware of how trapped they are in the city.
One of the main reasons the children are so depressed is because they are concentrating on the bad things and ignoring the good things. There are some good things about the city and there are probably some good schools. Briggs tries to tell the children this but they are too nai?? ve, “What? Can’t y ‘ see? Don’t you even bother looking at what’s around you? ” says Briggs, “You don’t get buildings like that anymore. Just look at the work that’s gone into that. ” There are a number of examples of the children behaving badly to one another. Reilly can be a bully to other children at times in the play.
Leaving the city on the bus a child threatens to tell a teacher about Reilly smoking, “Shut up you an’ open the friggin window,” and when the child threatens again Reilly says “You do and I’ll gob you,” meaning he will hit him, an example of being the ‘Big’ bully. It is difficult to be certain why the city might make children behave this way. However, I have already talked about the children being trapped and the suggestion from Ronson when they visit the zoo is that trapping things is cruel and makes the mad. He relates to what it must be like for the animals, trapped in a pit and knowing there are other ways of living.
Ronson says, “It only kills people cos it’s trapped an’ people are always stood lookin’ at it. If it was free it wouldn’t bother people at all. ” This also illustrates how children appear to see things and understand them more clearly in the country. Perhaps also the peace and quiet and lack of pollution helps them think more clearly. There are a number of differences between the city and countryside, which the play highlights. For example, the play talks about it. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t through vandalism or because it’s part of a world they have not known to hate such as the Conway Castle.
Mrs. Kay comments to Briggs that “We bring them to a pile of bricks and mortar and the think they’re in the fields of heaven. ” The children clearly show their appreciation of their country. Carol, for example, says to Mrs. Kay “I just like sitting here with you, lookin’ at the lake. ” And Linda says, “We’re dead interested,” as she is shown around the castle. I discussed earlier how Carol wanted to escape the city and live in one of those “Nice places. ” Whilst on the beach she talks to Briggs about not wanting to go home, “Why can’t I live in one of the nice white houses an’ do the garden and that.
The countryside to the kids is so nice and relaxing, that some of them really don’t want to leave. In the play, it is suggested that if the children lived in the countryside they would not get into trouble. Andrews talks about how having the freedom and open space would be a great place to play and would keep them from getting into trouble, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had something like this round ours, then the kids wouldn’t get into trouble if they had somewhere like this to play. ” The behaviour of the children from the city appears to be well known, so there is little trust shown to them in the country.
In the first shop scene, for example, the shopkeeper refuses to open for the city kids and pretends to be closed, “We are closed,” says the shopkeeper firmly to Mrs. Kay. In the city, the kids appear to be more enclosed and do not have as much open space. When they visit the countryside, they really enjoy the freedom and open space, although Briggs is worried how they will behave, “… You can’t afford just to let them go free. They’re just like dogs in the country. ” However, the children show they enjoy the freedom of playing football on the beach.
For example, “A game of football is in progress. Mrs. Kay is in goal. ” In conclusion, there are many differences between the countryside and the city but there are also some similarities. The similarities are that both the city and the countryside have decayed buildings but the decay in the city is due to vandalism and neglect, whilst the decay in the countryside is natural. Some of the differences are that the city is noisy and the country is peaceful, the city is polluted, and the country clean, the city is built up and the country has a lot of free space.
The play shows very stereotypical people, by the country people rejecting the city people and vice versa. The only real exceptions are the teachers. In real life, this is not true at all, we have many different personalities in the real world. Some of the differences mentioned would be hard to put across on stage due to the small amount of space, for example representing the large open countryside. In addition, there would be space for only a limited number of actors making it difficult to represent the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the city. Pollution would be hard to show indoors, as there is little room to work with.
One way of showing pollution is using a smoke machine, but even then, it would not create the same effect. The lighting would play a big part in the play because, it would emphasise the ‘bright’ countryside, and the ‘dark’ city. The stage would have three backgrounds, one being buildings and cars, being the city, and another with mountains, sea, sun, and a clean beach, being the countryside, a sweet shop counter, being the sweet shop, and another being the zoo, with animals. This would emphasise the atmosphere of the two main parts of the play
I really enjoyed the story line, humour, and the individual characters. In addition, a big part of the play that makes it really enjoyable is the change of personality in some of the characters, for example in most of the play Briggs is a mean, and irritable teacher. However, towards the end of the play he becomes funny, and more easy going. The play also shows that the city does change your personality because when Briggs returns to the city he returns to his usual grumpy self. I thought this was a well thought out play and would recommend it to anyone.