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Our day out by Willy Russell - review

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'Our day out is an interesting play based on a school trip with a group of underachieving children. This play conveys a deeper message about life in areas like Liverpool for people in the late 1970s. The playwright-William Russell skilfully created a strict old fashioned, selfish character: Mr Briggs and throughout the play convinces us that he is transforming into a fun, laidback person. But is he? This essay will focus on how an audience might respond to Mr Briggs, and how Russell uses his character to help the audience understand the plight of the children in the progress class. At the beginning of the trip Russell skilfully uses Mr Briggs sharp stern entrance onto the coach to accentuate his personality. "(Suddenly barks) Reilly. Dickson. Sit down!" This conveys to the audience his strict, military style way of teaching. A stereotypical, strict teacher image is portrayed in the audience's minds of Mr Briggs. And the audience take an automatic disliking to him. Within the first few minutes of the trip Briggs's old-fashioned streak is portrayed. He says to one of the pupils: "You now very well that on a schools visit you wear school uniform." This shows that Briggs is concerned about how the school is portrayed and he wants to set a good example of a good school. However this can be portrayed as a 'bad' attitude for a teacher to have. It comes across that he is self-centred and that he isn't genuinely bothered about the children, but instead bothered about his own reputation. And how it may reflect on him. At the back of the coach Briggs catches Reilly, Digga and Andrews smoking. His distrust for the children is portrayed and he accompanies them at the back to make sure they don't smoke. "There will be no more smoking if I stay up here, will there?" Here Briggs uses a stern tone. ...read more.


Really he just wants to educate them but he doesn't understand them and their situations. This makes us empathise with the children because like Mrs Kay we begin to be realistic and know that they aren't going to get an education and that they will have 'limited opportunities' for most of their life. Later in the play at the beach Carol goes missing. The teachers go searching for her and Briggs finds her stood on a cliff top. Russell includes this scene to convey to the audience how extreme the children's situations are. He wants us to empathise with them and understand their difficult circumstances. Russell starts the scene with Briggs's stern tone. He is not angry but not particularly sympathetic. "Carol chandler" "just come here" Briggs addresses her formally and uses this tone. Russell does this to convey Briggs's confident, military attitude. Maybe Briggs feels he has to address the kids in this way in order to gain power and become superior to them. "Turning she dismisses him" Russell uses this because it is usually Briggs dismissing the students not vice versa. He wants the audience to think that Briggs is starting to feel less powerful when Carol does this and 'ignores his presence'. Briggs's attitude begins to change and he is shocked and taken aback when Carol refuses to listen. He is not used to students disobeying him and being treated how they are. "Pardon" Mr Briggs gets frustrated with carols attitude because she is starting to become more superior to him. "I've had just about enough today just about enough" Briggs is angry he is trying to get his point across and his authority back before Carol gets full power over him. Here Russell wants to convey to the audience the lack of understanding Briggs holds for the kids. He doesn't yet realise how serious Carol is. "Try an' get me an' I'll jump over" Briggs starts to panic here. ...read more.


Briggs just thinks about himself and his reputation, he sees today as a one off and just wants to forget about it. Russell does this to make the audience feel empathy for the children. They have enjoyed the trip and it was a release for them to experience a different environment and break free from their 'limited lifestyles'. They have had a chance to bond with Mr Briggs and some of them now look up to him. But he just wants to forget about it. Screwing the film up shows Briggs doesn't care. The play ends with Briggs passing carol in the car. "Carol, walking along the street with the goldfish in her grasp, looks up at the disappearing car." When he drives past he does exactly what she says- 'ignores her'. Russell puts this in to make us feel empathy for Carol. He is also emphasising that she is realistic and clever enough to know that he isn't going to stop. He never will. Showing this scene and ending on it reminds us of the plays beginning. Nothing has changed. Briggs is the same character; the play is just a cycle. Russell's idea of the play is to make us think, he wants to open the audiences eyes to the fact that there was no hope for children like carol in 1980's Liverpool. There was little alternative to academic education and unemployment was particularly high. Russell wants us to empathise with the children, as they are so often referred to as 'factory fodder' and ignored from their own society. This reflects in the way Briggs treats them. Russell tricks us into thinking that Briggs has changed. However after all that Briggs hasn't really changed. He still and always will have the school 'looming behind him'; He exposes the film because he doesn't want evidence of what he has done. He straightens himself up back to perfection and drives off leaving carol on her own again. Showing this scene and ending on it reminds us of the plays beginning. Nothing has changed. Briggs is the same character; the play is just a cycle. ...read more.

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