Willy Russell's Our Day Out Essay

Willy Russell's Our Day Out Essay

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Willy Russell's "Our Day Out"

Willy Russell has written many plays over the last thirty years, but
there is one feature that is common to all of them: the issue of
social and cultural background. This is the situation of the
characters; their surroundings; their class; the society in which they
are brought up, and the culture of that society. It is this that can
lead to the behaviour, feelings, opinions and general outlook of the
characters. Russell explores the effects that society and culture can
have on people in all his plays, but in none is it so poignant as in
'Our Day Out', the story of what happens when Mrs Kay takes her
Progress class out of inner-city Liverpool on a school trip to Conwy
Castle, Wales.

Throughout 'Our Day Out' the issue of social and cultural background
is ever-present, but it is discussed and conveyed in many different
forms; the colloquial dialect Russell uses; the symbolism that is
featured; the behaviour and attitudes of the children; the way that
people react to these children, and the insights we get into their
family lives.

Willy Russell himself said that he writes for the theatre because
'it's concerned with the spoken rather than the written word'. In 'Our
Day Out' we see the importance of the spoken word through the language
that the children use. Having grown up and taught at a Comprehensive
school in Liverpool, Russell knows the Liverpudlian dialect perfectly,
and he uses his knowledge to give a truly representative feel to the
play. The children use words such as 'agh'ey', 'ooer', and 'nott'n',
and the authentic language that the children use help to make the play
feel more real. Because Russell writes the words as they would be
spoken in a Liverpudlian acce...

... middle of paper ...

...ry isn't. The poignancy and intensity of the play is somewhat
masked in places by the comedy, but we do catch glimpses of the
hopeless, desperate situation these children are facing. As Mrs Kay
says, 'Ten years ago you could teach them to stand in a line, you
could teach them to obey, to expect little more than a lousy factory
job. But now they haven't even got that to aim for. There's nothing for
them to do, any of them; most of them were born for factory fodder,
but the factories have closed down.' Throughout the play this is the
underlying tone, and the subtle way that Russell conveys this message
heightens the effect when it comes. This day out is simply an oasis;
one day of fun out of their whole lives, and at the end of it we see
how the glimmer of something bright and beautiful makes it all the
harder to turn your eyes back to the grey and mundane.

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