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Discuss the similarities and differences between the city and the countryside as depicted in Willy Russell's play 'Our Day Out', with specific reference to how the city and countryside would be represented on stage.

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Introduction

Discuss the similarities and differences between the city and the countryside as depicted in Willy Russell's play 'Our Day Out', with specific reference to how the city and countryside would be represented on stage. 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. ...read more.

Middle

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 na�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. ...read more.

Conclusion

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. ...read more.

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