Boys from the Blackstuff' was the first television series by Liverpool playwright Alan Bleasdale. It captured the public mood in 1982 when it was first shown on BBC2, at a time of anxiety about unemployment. Set in Liverpool, it showed the attempts of five men to find work in a city hit hard by unemployment and depression. Of the five central characters, Chrissie was the most ordinary, desperate for work and constantly pressured by the insecurity of life on the dole.
Other characters included Loggo, Dixie, George and Yosser. When we first see Yosser Hughes, we see him as very unstable, a man with problems who is very aggressive and insecure. This is because he has lost his job as well as many other things including his wife. We are not the only ones who think Yosser comes across as an unstable man with problems, some of his work colleagues think he's a bit mad; even Chrissie, who normally sticks up for everyone and supports his friends says 'he's off his cake...' ("Jobs for the boys")
As we move through the play we tend to feel more and more sympathetic towards Yosser, this is based on his losses; first his job, then his wife, his kids in his dream, his electricity, his possessions, his children, his house and finally his identity. Right at the end of the play he is left with nothing. This supports our feelings of sympathy for him.
Scene 2 is set in Sefton park, Yosser is dreaming that he is losing his children, with his friends around him in boats who wont help, 'Boys, boys, boys I'm losing my children...' they all ignore him, they don't seem to take any notice of him. This scene suggests that Yosser is very worried at the possibility of this reality. One by one his children disappear into the water below them. I think his dream is a premonition of what's to come; it reveals his greatest fears, such as losing his children and also his identity. It's also symbolic towards what happens towards the end - he tries to kill himself in a lake. The first scene ends up being. Alan Bleasdale uses this dream as a metaphor for Yosser drowning in his sea of troubles.
Scene 8 is also set in a park, we see a happy family consisting of a mother, father and three children who are playing together on the swings, 'enjoying themselves' Yosser and his children are sitting beneath a tree watching the family as they play. The children amuse themselves. Dustin is playing with a stick, this suggests that he is easily pleased and that he doesn't have many toys of his own. Yosser finds watching the happy family that he can't have frustrating, everything he sees in the 'happy family' is the exact opposite of what he's got i.e.
Happy family - broken family, clean - dirty, happy - sad, it is also very clear that he is jealous of them by the way he head butts the tree four times to get rid of his anger that has been building up inside him whilst watching the family. As Yosser butts the tree we see a magpie fly by, this symbolises sorrow and almost foresees what is about to come. He wishes he were like them, a happy family with a normal lifestyle. At this point the children are starting to get worried, 'what are we going to do?' This makes us feel sympathetic towards the children and not just Yosser.
In scene 10 we see Yosser trying to persuade Maureen to come home. Maureen's strength is not enough to hold him back, she get forced against a lamppost. After Yosser's pleads 'come home, please' for Maureen to return to the house and pick up the role of mum he leans back as if to butt Maureen but at the last minute moves her to the side and butts the lamppost. We get the impression, once again, that he is emotionally unstable by the way he head butts the lamppost. This scene is quite moving because it is the only time we see him and his wife together. This scene reveals his true feelings for her.
The way Maureen responds to Yosser makes the audience distressed for him. She laughs in his face and says 'For Christ's sake leave me alone you bastard, I don't want you anymore'. But the main reason we feel sympathetic towards Yosser and his kids in this scene is because of the two lines said by his kids. Anne Marie says: 'she used to be our mummy', Dustin replies: 'I know'. These two lines are very moving. They are spoken without pathos so it makes it out that they are saying it in a very realistic manor. It shows they still remember her and deep down still love her, as I think does Yosser. He can't let her go.
Scene 18 is where Yosser meets Graeme Souness at the pub. As soon as Yosser enters the pub, all the liveliness and excitement in the pub dies down and there is a sense of tension. This probably has something to do with his appearance, which is dirty, smelly, and un-shaven. All these faults suggest that Yosser is an outcast. Graeme Souness's impressions of Yosser might also be that he's an outcast and that he's on the border of insanity he gets this impression by what Yosser says: 'I could have been a footballer, but I had a paper round' We realise in this scene that Yosser has changed a lot over the years.
As a youngster he was full of ambition but this seems to have disappeared miserably. He acts like a big man in the other scenes always repeating 'I'm Yosser Hughes'. After asking Graeme Souness for his autograph he feels happy about himself. He's happy that someone famous has noticed him and given something in return. Normally the autograph given to Yosser would be for a child, but here we see Dustin smiling in the background at the delight on his dad's face in receiving the autograph. This almost becomes a role reversal.
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