At the beginning of ‘Our Day Out’ the character of Mr. Briggs is told to ‘keep an eye on things. ‘ At this point we don’t know a great deal about him apart from the fact that he acts a bit like a spy. Briggs addresses the pupils on the coach to sit down and his first words are typical of a strict teacher:’ Reilly. Dickson. Sit down! ‘ It shows it will not be easy for the pupils to get on with as they want to have a good time, and a good time in his eyes is to sit down quietly and talk to people sitting near by you.
Briggs dialogue indicates that he is strict.
He does not talk to people in a normal tone; it is more of a strict tone. And there are a lot of exclamation marks in his dialogue indicating he shows most of the time. Mrs. Kay is the classes teacher, she is a nice lady that knows the children wont amount to much, as there is no jobs around in that area.
Briggs and Mrs. Kay seem to not get along, this is because of the different teaching styles. Briggs does not understand that the pupil’s fathers work hard and do not have much to show for it. Whereas Mrs Kay understands it is hard for them, understand they wont grow up to be much and tries to be nice.
Mrs Kay and the other teachers are as disappointed as the children when they hear Briggs is coming on the trip because they know what he is like.
He does not think the children deserve to be allowed on a trip like this and enjoy it. He is an old fashion teacher, who sticks by rules. He thinks Mrs. Kay should teach them in a different way. He is under the impression that if they learn something they will have a better lifestyle. Comedy is a main ingredient to the play. It happens in many scenes throughout the play. To begin with when Les walks out to get Carol across the road.
He sets his timing just right to stop the ‘arrogant get’ that is Briggs. Then, there is the scene when Mrs. Kay fools the driver into believing that the children are poor. The zoo, the shop, the girls with Colin all of these scenes all have comedy in them. Briggs serious nature also adds to the humour because the behaviour of the children makes him so mad. Mrs Kay persuades Briggs to sit down and have a coffee. He does not think that the children should be left alone, however Mrs. Kay reassures him that they will be okay.
Yet when Briggs finds out the children have stolen the animals he gets angry. He disagreed with Ronsons view about the caged animals and he says that was all they were used to. Here, Willy Russell speaks metaphorically. The caged animals are like the children. The children see the life they want, like the bears see the freedom, yet they cant reach it. Russell shows us that Briggs and the children are so different thought the language by using phonetic spelling to highlight accent. At the beach and the fair, Briggs seems like a different person.
He tells the driver to go to the fair. He seems to have become used to the children by this time. At the beach, Carol, a student from the progress class that has big dreams but no way of getting them, goes missing. Briggs finds her on the edge of a cliff and tells her to get away from the edge. She replies with something the audience thinks, ‘You don’t care. ‘ The audience then start to see a different side to Briggs when he replies ‘If I didn’t care, why am I here now. ‘ This implies that Briggs does care about the students, but he is an old-fashioned teacher.
He believes that children go to school to learn, not to have a fun time. The end of the play is relaxed. The children have a good time at the fairground and Mrs Kay takes some photos, which Briggs gets hold of, with the promise to develop them, yet he throws them away. Personally I don’t think Briggs changes. Just before the bus got back to school, Russell adds this stage direction: ‘Briggs takes off his hat, combs his hair and put back on his jacket’ I think he relaxed and tried to enjoy the trip, but when he gets back to school, his place of work, he is the old Briggs again.
I think in general that the audience’s view has changed of Briggs. He is an old fashioned teacher and that’s the way he is, but I think that the audience now see that there is a different side to him. A side that is rarely seen. I think that Briggs is a good teacher and that he does have a better approach to the children than Mrs Kay. Although she understands them better, I think that Briggs would teach them more as he has strict rules, He would make them learn, where as Mrs Kay simply talks to them and plainly understands them.