Blood Brothers tells the story of twin brothers separated at birth because their struggling single mother cannot afford to keep both. The two grow up in very different environments but strike up a strong friendship, oblivious to the truth, until the story comes tragically to an end as they die moments after their brotherhood is revealed. Having watched it in GCSE drama I absolutely jumped at the chance to see Blood Brothers again and relive it.
If truth be told, it did not quite live up to expectations. It was done as a very episodic, non-naturalistic play with lots of on-stage multi-roling, plus way too many set changes. In the first song there was four set changes alone, making it very clunky. The Narrator (Robbie Scotcher) loomed ominously throughout, always lurking in the darkness or leaning on the set. He was also similarly clunky – the songs and the plot would build momentum and then he would jump in and ruin the flow completely.
Some of the set itself was wobbling throughout and the countryside backdrop for the second half of the play was horrendous – almost like it had been done with Windows Paint. I found the character of Eddie (Mark Hutchinson) physically make me cringe, and Mrs Lyons (Sarah Jane Buckley), whose descent into madness was either half-hearted or completely over the top. The lovely scene where the unknowing brothers meet for the first time as young boys was really underplayed and rushed through what could have been great comic timing – can you tell I know the script well?
However – the good bits. It is a cracking soundtrack, especially Mrs Johnston and ‘Easy Terms’ – Linzi Hatley has an incredible voice. Sean Jones as Mickey gave a great performance, especially his portrayal of the transition from wild little boy to depressed father, struggling with his experience of prison, unemployment and depression. All songs were performed and choreographed brilliantly.
I may have glorified Blood Brothers in my head a little over the past few years, thus being a little disappointed. However, the final song ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ never fails to make me sob as Mrs J sobs over the bodies of her sons – although I had consumed a large amount of red wine and prosecco. Touchingly, a little girl in the audience actually screamed ‘NO!’ when both twins were shot, and loudly sobbed alongside me for the rest of the song – and the cast got a standing ovation. Verdict – very watchable but be prepared for some slightly dubious attempts at a Scouse accent…
Main image: Sheffield Theatres