Willy Russell wrote our Day out in 1977. The story is set in a working class area in Liverpool. The theme of this story is about a group of academically challenged children who go on a trip. The school is an inner city comprehensive school and many of the children come from poor or single parent families. The story tells us the troubles that the children and teachers come across. We also see changes in people’s characters, we see how the trip has helped them to change.
The aim of the trip is for the to have fun as the children are academically challenged with little chance of passing exams or getting a good job.
There are two main teachers in the play; Mrs Kay and Mr Briggs. Both of them have different teaching methods and both of them work in their own way. Mrs Kay has a more sympathetic, caring and lenient attitude to the children, which would explain why the children like her so much.
Mr Briggs has a harsh, stern and disciplined attitude to the children again which would explain why the children hate him so much yet fear him also.
It is very clear from the beginning that Mrs Kay supports the children. She supports them in the way that she does because she knows that these children have no real chance in life and therefore feels sorry for them so she tries to support them as much as she can. These children will probably end up on the ‘dole’ or stuck in a dead end job so Mrs Kay tries to make sure that there is at least one happy time in their lives (the trip), as their lives will probably be filled with misery.
The driver Ronny Sutcliffe first shouts at the children for getting onto the bus without his permission and then about the possibility of them having lemonade and chocolate on them. Ronny refuses to let the children onto the bus until Mrs Kay searches the children for the forbidden items (chocolate and lemonade). When Mrs Kay takes Ronny away to have a private word with him she signals the children to get onto the bus without him knowing. When Mrs Kay talks to Ronny she greatly exaggerates the truth so that Ronny will go easy on the kids.
This means that the sky is perfect apart from the big cloud that is obscuring the perfect sky. In other words the trip is going to be perfect apart from the big cloud (Mr Briggs) who is ruining the trip. Willy Russell is using a metaphor as he is comparing Mr Briggs to a big cloud in the sky. Mr Briggs starts shouting at the children the moment he arrives on the coach, he does not even given the children a chance to show him that they can behave. The moment Mr Briggs starts shouting at the children we can see how he really feels about the children. It is as if he is talking at the children not to them. We can also see that Mr Briggs has a bad attitude. He is arrogant, impatient and does not understand the children’s situations. He also does not understand why the children behave like they do.
We learn that Andrews’s parents obviously do not care about him or his health. It also seems that he has grown up in a house where his parents constantly argue which cannot be good for him. He say’s that his ‘mam’ hates his Dad which is also not a good thing as he’ll never learn how to love someone, if his parents do not love each other then he will not be able to either. His parents are supposed to be his role models. So by arguing they have already set him up for a life of failed relationships, as he will probably treat his girlfriends/wives just like his Dad treats his Mum. His parents have harmed Andrews psychologically. Earlier on in Scene six during a conversation between Digga, Andrews and Reilly, Digga and Reilly say that Andrews’ Mum picks up black men on ‘Parly’. They also say that his Mum must be loaded as blacks pay a lot of money for a bit of white. In other ways they are saying that his Mum is a prostitute.
Scene six is very long compared to the other in the play. I think that this scene is longer than the others are because Willy Russell wants to show us some of the characters backgrounds. He wanted us to familiarise ourselves with the characters like we have known them for a long time. At the beginning of the play we never got to find out what makes the characters tick what their lives are like, why they behave like they do. In this scene we find out a little about Mr Briggs’s background and why he cannot understand and sympathise with the children.
In Scene twenty-one there is a conversation between Mr Briggs and Colin (a young teacher). In the conversation Mr Briggs talks about Mrs Kay’s teaching style. In fact he actually criticises her teaching style. The conversation actually causes friction and tension between Mr Briggs and Colin. Mr Briggs thinks that Mrs Kay is being nice and soft to the children just so everyone likes her. Once the audience has heard the conversation they just feel more hatred towards Mr Briggs. This is because Mrs Kay is on the children’s side and wants to help them as much as she can unlike Mr Briggs who just wants to shout at them and discipline them. The audience has sympathy with Mrs Kay as she does actually want to help them but they also have a little bit of sympathy for Mr Briggs as he cannot see why Mrs Kay talks to the children like she does. They also have sympathy for him, as he cannot see why the children behave like they do.
The characters and language used does contribute to the play, as it is the characters that make the play. The play is about the troubles that the children face while going on the trip. Most of these troubles are caused due to their bad behaviour and their bad behaviour is due to the fact that they are not disciplined or educated enough to realise that one day they could get into serious trouble if they keep on behaving like they do. This story portrays the actual life that many young poor children in Liverpool faced.