blood brothers

Blood Brothers

Malvern Theatres

****

UNLIKE many in the audience this was my first experience with blood brothers.

The story covers the lives of twins Mickey and Edward (the superb Sean Jones and Joel Benedict) separated at birth, only to meet again with fateful consequences. Sean, incidentally, has been playing the role for some 17 years.

Written by Willy Russell (Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine) the two act musical has many powerful songs which include Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It’s Not True.

Blood brothers debut performance was in Liverpool in 1983 and this multi-award winning Bill Kenwright production went on to spend more than 24 years in the West End amassing more than 10,000 performances – the third longest running show in West End history.

The story begins with Mrs Johnstone, a young zest for life mother, who follows her instincts, believing them to be her best guide through life. She fell in love while dancing and has now been deserted by her husband as she sings, she no longer looks like Marilyn Monroe. Left to her own devices to provide for seven hungry children, she discovers herself to be pregnant yet again but this time with twins!

In a moment of weakness and desperation, she superstitiously enters a secret pact with her employer to give up one of the twins thus sending them on dramatically paths – they are to have different upbringings all highlighting the Nature vs. Nurture debate; is a person's development predisposed in his DNA, or is influenced by his life and own experiences?

Lyn Paul has been voted the definitive Mrs Johnstone reprising the role which she has regularly played over the last 20 years and it is easy to see why, her performance is excellent.

The Narrator (Dean Chisnall) is fantastic, a physical character on stage for the duration of the play providing vital information to a story he already knows. Unlike a guardian angel he presents the themes of fate, destiny and superstition, presenting himself as a figure of doom.

Throughout the musical he directly asks the audience to judge what they see and who is to blame. He is a commentator and also the conscience watching the characters and often lurking in the background, which contrasts with other plays and musicals where a narrator is usually neutral. The other characters do not see him, yet they certainly seem as if they can feel his presence.

Money and influential connections are necessary to become successful is a message written into the play, Mickey's journey, despite his good character and hard work, is the basis of the tragedy in the drama which will either leave you by the end either coughing quietlywith a lump in the throat or weeping.

It is a very simple story but everything about it is epic, Blood brothers will always stand by each other and this is a tale worth telling. To 17-09-16

Johnathan Gray

13-09-16 

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