Our Day Out


With Whom Does Willy Russell Intend the Audience to Sympathize, Mrs. Kay, Mr. Briggs or Carol?


The play 'Our Day Out' was written by Willy Russell in the late 70's it is set in Liverpool which is an economically depressed, treeless slum inhabited by people. At this time Liverpool is covered in a blanket of unemployment for many reasons such as a decrease in the industrial revenue which led to many factories closing down because Japan could make the same products that Liverpool were producing but sell them for a cheaper price. Willy Russell himself was subject to a chaotic and badly run secondary school; Willy Russell also received no formal qualifications, which identifies him with the progress class from the play 'Our Day Out'. Willy Russell went to night school and gained his qualifications, and then he went on to become a teacher. 'Our Day Out' was based on a real school trip with low ability kids were strict teachers relaxed, Willy Russell himself was on this school trip as a teacher and he could relate to being a teacher like Colin out of 'Our Day Out'. This play shows how people can be trapped in life, education, social class or even there own minds.


Willy Russell creates the character of Mrs. Kay, a character which has clear sympathy with the progress class and he shows this throughout the play from the moment it starts, Mrs. Kay shows that she is on the kids when she takes Ronnie Sutcliffe (driver) to one side and persuades him to see the kids differently, She persuades Ronnie not to see the kids not as troublesome vandals but as poor lost souls who don’t have a penny to their name she says to him 'When your kids from the good schools are opening presents on Christmas day these kids are left to wander the cold cruel streets' (scene 4). Mrs. Kay knows how trapped the kids are so and she justs wants them to have fun on the trip so she doesn't give them any rules to follow but one 'the only rule we have today ; think of yourselves, but think of others as well.'. Later on in the play Mrs. Kay says 'we bring them to a crumbling pile of bricks and they think they are in the fields of heaven' and by this she realizes how trapped and disadvantaged the students are and she sympathizes with them. Mrs. Kay understands that the kids are trapped socially because of there background and intelligents. Mrs. Kay knows that her job is ‘designed and funded to fail’ because the destiny of the students is to become factory fodder.


Willy Russell makes the reader identify with Mr. Briggs because although at the start of the play he doesn’t understand that there is no point trying to educate the students in the progress class because they are ‘factory fodder’ and he shows this when he suggests to Mrs. Kay at the zoo ‘maybe I could come along and give them a small talk with some slides I’ve got’. All this changes at the cliff scene, when Mr. Briggs sees carol and her life for what it is so at last he starts to sympathize with the students. Mr. Briggs shows us near the end of the play that he understands kids and decides to take them to the funfair.


At the end of the play- he returns to the old Mr. Briggs he hasn’t learnt anything, when Mr. Briggs disappears in his car with the same attitude as he had at the start.


As an audience it is easy to identify with carol, the young and innocent schoolgirl whomes 1st impression suggests that she is very poor because she is wearing a school uniform which doubles as a street outfit and her Sunday best this is due to the economic situation in Liverpool at this time. Carol shows that she is not very bright when she has to ask several times where they are going, this helps you identify with carol because it shows that she is not very bright and to feel sorry for her. Carol hates the place were she lives and sees it for what it is