Our Day Out by Willy Russell is about a group of less able pupils from a school in a run down part of Liverpool, set in the 1970s. The children are on a school trip to Conwy Castle in Wales, with four teachers, of which two have large roles in the play, and have two contrasting personalities. The outing to Conwy Castle is a great spree for the children because they have a chance to experience nature and the countryside firsthand. The children live in the dirty slums of Liverpool, and some of the pupils had never seen a vast field in their whole lives until this school trip.
Carol is one of the pupils on the trip, and is found on a nearby cliff top because she does not want to leave the countryside, and return to her run down Liverpool home. She wants to enjoy the countryside as much as she can before she has to leave. She then has a wild idea of actually staying there, at the countryside, and not going back home to Liverpool. Section one is a small description on stage-directions. Mrs Kay and Colin are searching the area for Carol. The atmosphere created by the stage-directions is of a somewhat peaceful theme. Carol is on a cliff top watching the waves peacefully.
The audience may feel slight tension at this point; because they are wondering why Carol is on a cliff top on her own, and what she will say when she is found. The setting is unusual to Carol, as her home background is in the inner-city of Liverpool. The place she is in now is much more peaceful, clean and tranquil than the busy, terraced streets that are Carol’s home. There are no grassy fields or large trees in the area of Liverpool that Carol lives in, as it says earlier in the play, because at the last bonfire night some kids cut them down and burned them.
Briggs finally finds Carol on the cliff top by herself. Briggs tells her to go back down to the beach, but she is defiant, and she will not go. When Briggs approaches her, she steps to the side, telling him she will jump if he tries to get her. Briggs and Carol argue, but Carol doesn’t move. Briggs’ attitude and tone of voice is of an angry nature in this section, shouting in disbelief- “Pardon. ” This is similar to how he has been earlier in the play, for example when he yells after he finds out that all the children had taken animals from the petting zoo.
Carol replies in a relaxed tone of voice, only half listening to him, saying that she is not going to go back to Liverpool. I was surprised by her responses, because she seemed mentally stable earlier in the play. It is surprising that she wants to kill herself if she can’t stay. Carol wants to stay because Wales is so different to Liverpool, in the way that it has a natural environment, and it is peaceful. She does not like her home in Liverpool. The fact that Carol will die if she jumps off the cliff causes much tension. This is conveyed in the section.
Briggs and Carol are still arguing, and Carol tells Briggs about her idea of living there, in Wales, out in the countryside. Briggs tells her it is ridiculous. Carol says to Briggs that he hates her, and he hates all of the kids. Briggs, still trying to persuade Carol to come away from the cliff edge and back down to the beach, denies hating her. Briggs changes his approach to Carol here by changing the subject and saying that he did care about her and if he didn’t care, then he wouldn’t be there trying to stop Carol from doing something stupid.
This contrasts to a scene at the start of the play where Mr Briggs goes past in the car, and Carol is just about to cross the street, when Mr Briggs gives Carol a mean look from his car. So far in the play, Mr Briggs has been quite strict with the children, and has not seemed to be a very nice person. His change of tone lasts right through to the end of this section. Carol says that Mr Briggs hates her, and all the rest of the kids. She says that the only reason he is trying to stop her from jumping off the cliff is because he will get into trouble, not because he cares.
Carol thinks about why she couldn’t stay there. Briggs says that life is only beginning for her, and what’s to stop Carol doing well in school, getting a good job, and moving out to Wales when she is older. Carol says that it is a stupid idea, and that that is a stupid idea. Carol says she loved the trip, and she doesn’t want to go home. Then she says that if she did stay, he would send the coppers to get her. Carol’s anger in this section turns to sadness. In the middle of this section, Briggs tries to ask Carol why she can’t turn her life around, and get a good job.
Carol replies with “don’t be friggin’ stupid. ” Then, she says: “it’s been a great day today. I loved it…… ” Briggs gives advice to Carol about getting a job and moving out of Liverpool. It is similar to an earlier part of the play, where Carol says: “y’know, if I had started to work…. ” His advice is treated in contempt, because Carol knows that the advice Mr Briggs gave her is absolutely unrealistic. This is because Liverpool in the seventies was not a good place to live, because there were no jobs, so most parents in Carol’s area were unemployed.
Tension is building in this scene, because Carol is progressively nearing the cliff edge, and Carol is getting angrier, which gives her more reason to jump. Briggs says that they’d have to send the coppers to get her. Carol asks Briggs whether if he’d been her father, she would have been alright. Briggs then slowly holds out his hand, and Carol moves to the very edge of the cliff. Briggs is aware of how close to the cliff she is. Carol says: “if you’d been my old feller, I woulda been all right, wouldn’t I? This shows that Carol’s father is either dead, or she has a low opinion of him, which can show a cause for the mental instability. Carol recognizes that Griggs is an affectionate person deep down, and she begins to trust him. Tension increases in this section because the stage directions say that Briggs puts his hand out, and Carol moves to the very edge of the cliff edge, and Briggs is aware of how close to the edge she is. Briggs pleads with Carol to come back. A smile breaks across Carol’s face.
She says that he looks funny when he smiles, and that he should smile more often and he looks great when he smiles. Carol asks about what will happen to her for doing what she had done. Briggs replies with: “It won’t be even mentioned. ” Section five makes a turning point in the scene because of the change in Carol’s mood, from angry to peaceful, also the fact that Carol starts to trust Briggs is a turning point in the scene. “Sir…. Sir you don’t half look funny, y’know….. Sir, you should smile more often….. The audience may feel relieved now, and that she might not jump now, because she is feeling happier. The last section is just a brief paragraph of stage-directions. Carol looks down at the steep drop of the cliff, and then looks back up at Brigg’s outstretched arm, and slowly starts to reach for it. She slips, and Briggs grabs out quickly and manages to pull her back up to him. Briggs then wraps his arms around her. This section is probably the most tension-filled section of the scene, because of the physical danger of Carol falling.
When Briggs finally pulls Carol back up to him, the audience will feel incredibly relieved that Carol is safe now. Willy Russell builds up tension in this scene from the conflict between the two characters Carol and Mr. Briggs, the physical danger of Carol falling off the cliff and the mood that Carol is in when she is on the cliff edge. He builds up tension towards the third section of the scene and onwards. Perhaps the most nervous point in the scene is in section 7 stage directions, where Carol very nearly falls off the cliff, but is saved by Briggsy.
This physical danger of Carol falling to her doom is one of the aspects that makes this scene a stressful one. The mood that Carol is in is of a suicidal nature. One never knows what she is going to do, or is going to say next. In the second section, where Carol says: “Try an’ get me an’ I’ll jump over. ” Has a large impact on the audience, because of the physical danger of her jumping over, and the fact that, throughout most of the play, Carol has been mentally stable. The mood that Carol is in when she is on the cliff-top is another aspect of the scene that makes it very on edge.
The last language device that Willy Russell uses to increase the tenseness in this scene is the Conflict between Carol Chandler, and Mr. Briggs. This consists of a steady argument beginning from the second section, and calming down around section 4 or section 5. The arguments are tense because the audience knows that if the argument escalates, then that will lead us to the physical danger of Carol jumping, or falling to her perilous death. Willy Russell used this device to his advantage, to create a very tense scene in the play Our Day Out.