In the three plays I have read by Willy Russell, all of them are linked by the fact that they all contain an aspect of social inequality. Russell uses humour in all these plays to show serious messages, mostly through stereotypes. In every play there are two very contrasting social groups, each figure-headed by certain characters in the stories. For example, in Blood Brothers, Mickey figureheads the working class society like Rita does in Educating Rita, and the children do in Our Day Out.
Whereas Eddie figureheads the middle class society in Blood Brothers, Frank does in Educating Rita, and Mr. Briggs does in Our Day Out.
We found that the people from the working class backgrounds were all very broad scoucers, who tended to use slang words such as “ciggie” and “chippie. ” They were what you would call a very typical stereotype of a broad liverpudlian. Most of them had problems aswell. For instance, Mickey in “Blood Brothers” has family problems because he has many older siblings which means he gets a lot of hand-me-down clothes and gets bullied by his older brother Sammy who breaks his toys.
Rita in “Educating Rita” has many conflicts with her husband Denny who doesn’t want her to carry on with her tuition from Frank.
She wants to be educated so that she can have choices. As the play progresses and Rita becomes more educated she begins to make her own decisions, she moves out of her house, ends her relationship with Denny and says “I might even have a baby” The people from the middle class backgrounds however were made to look rather different. Eddie in “Blood Brothers” doesn’t have to share his toys with brothers or sisters like Mickey does, and his mother doesn’t have to worry about financial problems because they have quite a lot of money.
The men that were from the middle class backgrounds (Mr. Briggs and Frank) both wore suits and seemed to be well educated, living a comfortable lifestyle. This society of people in the stories tended to speak more formally using words such as “What in the world is being off one’s cake? ” Eddie is brought up to speak correctly and not use colloquialisms. In “Blood Brothers” Micky asks him what a dictionary is and Eddie replies “It is a book which tells you the meaning of words.
” I think Russell makes the social classes seem so very different to one another in each play, so that when they come together there is a lot of humour, but also a lot of tension between them because neither social class really understand each other. This forms a rich and poor type of scenario for all three plays. In “Educating Rita” Frank is a rich lecturer and Rita is a poor university student who has bad problems with her husband at home. In “Our Day Out” there is a similar contrast between Mr. Briggs the, well-spoken teacher, and the children who come from a poor, run-down area.
These rich and poor scenarios are serious messages that Russell conveys in all three plays. Interestingly enough though, it is the people from the middle class backgrounds that turn out to be the most strange of the two societies. Frank in Educating Rita has a drink addiction, yet has a comfortable lifestyle and is on a stable income. Mr. Briggs doesn’t like the children at the school where he works because they are less fortunate than himself, he says “most of them were rejects on the day they were born. ” Eddie’s adopted mother in Blood Brothers, Mrs. Lyons, is supersticious and unhappy. Quote: “The shoes! The shoes! On the table!
Get them off! Get them off! ” Frank and Mr. Briggs are in many ways the same, they both wear suits and dress smartly, they both have similar lifestyles and they both have some sort of problem (i. e. the drink and the hatred for people less fortunate than him). This is where I think that Blood Brothers is different, it doesn’t contain a male character as old as Frank or Mr. Briggs who appears often in the story. Whereas the conversations between adult and youth in the other stories are mainly comical, like in Our Day Out when the two lads are caught smoking at the back of the bus, in Blood Brothers they are more intense.
I think Blood Brothers on the whole is more intense. In Blood Brothers Russell uses a narrator drifting in and out of the play at certain times, saying daunting things about the scene that has just happened, or is going to happen. I believe this represents the devil and is a good way of creating an eerie tension, because he moves to different places on the stage in the play, and you never see his whole face or body, he is always in the shadows. There are no narrators in the two other plays but dramatic devices also take on the form of dramatic irony.
In “Blood Brothers” this is shown by the two twins not knowing they are twins, when they first become friends. Later in the story when they find out they were born on the same day “That means we can be blood brothers” the audience can see what is happening, they are going to eventually find out that they are real brothers, and there will be a big disaster because of this. “Our Day Out” shows dramatic irony when the bus driver is told the children can’t afford sweets or lemonade “lemonade never touches their lips” but when the driver turns around they all are munching on chocolate bars!
Later on their journey the bus stops at a sweet shop and the audience sees the shopkeepers talking about raising the prices of the goods in their shop “Can I help inflation? ” The audience now know that the shopkeepers are going to raise their prices, but the children don’t. The children get their revenge for being ‘ripped off’. They all squeeze into the shop and each time the shopkeepers turn their backs to collect more sweets from the shelves, the kids pocket anything in front of them.
The two shopkeepers are oblivious to the stealing taking place until the coach leaves and they realise no money from the till has changed hands “Thievin’ little bastards! ” shouts one of the shopkeepers. Russell also uses the influence of song in “Blood Brothers” and “Our Day Out” to show the mood and feelings of the characters as the play progresses. At the beginning of “Blood Brothers” Mrs. Johnston is seen dancing in a pub singing a song with the lines “Oh we went dancing. ” in the chorus.
As the play continues she occasionally sings this line but at a tempo which reflects the mood of the play itself. In “Our Day Out” the songs are cheerful and uplifting “We’re off, we’re off, we’re off in a motor car. ” The themes of the three plays are all linked in many ways. As I have said before, social inequality connects all three, another is the fact they are all set in and around Liverpool with some of the characters in each play speaking with a very broad Liverpudlian accent. Finally, the last one is that they all contain an aspect concerning death. I. e.
In Blood Brothers, Mickey and Eddie, in Educating Rita, Rita’s flatmate tries to commit suicide, and in Our Day Out one of the pupils called Carol also attempts to kill herself “Try an’ get me an’ I’ll jump over. ” I believe that Willy Russell features the aspects of social inequality, hatred, death, abuse, love, irony and humour in each play because he knows they have a hard-hitting impact on the audience. Also I think it is because at some time in his life he has been affected significantly by them and so, involves them in something which he can express his feelings and emotions at. Writing.