I wasn’t sure what to expect from Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, but I came away thinking it’s one of the best musicals I have ever seen and very different from any other musical experience.
This script excels with every hilarious, cheeky, moving, sad or heartfelt line. The tragic opening scene setting the audience up for what is to come, as the plot unfolds. The score is dramatic and the roles played by this small cast are perfectly placed.
And so, the story unfolds of the tale of twin brothers, Mickey and Eddie, separated at birth as their mother Mrs Johnston, is forced to give one of them up to her employer Mrs Lyons, through the circumstances she finds herself in.
The two brothers are brought up in totally different environments. Eddie in a life of luxury and Mickey in the poverty of a two up, two down in Liverpool with his single mum trying to cope with too many mouths to feed.
All the while, the narrator plays the devil on the two women’s shoulder, whispering their conscience and poking tales of superstitions to warn of impending tragedy.
Self-confessed super fan of Blood Brothers, Maureen Nolan heads up the sterling cast. Famous for singing with her sisters in one of Europe’s first girl bands – The Nolans, she does not disappoint as her strong vocals and natural performance shine through and “Tell me it’s not true” is particularly heart wrenching.
Other standout performances include Kristofer Harding who pulls a mean satanic punch as the Narrator with amazing vocals – a true voice of impending doom. Mark Hutchinson, Eddie, is convincing as the wide eyed Posh boy and Sean Jones, plays the role of Mickey, magnificently portraying the change from young, carefree boy to troubled, life weary and drug dependent adult.
This musical is more story line and script than show stopping musical numbers, but there are some standout songs including Tell Me It’s Not True and Marilyn Monroe.
Immediately the last note had been sung, the audience were on their feet clapping and whooping the fantastic production they had just seen.
Blood Brothers is showing at the Bristol Hippodrome until 19th April.
by Charlie Hill