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Theatre Reviews

5 Reasons To See ‘Blood Brothers’

★★★★

Sunderland Empire, 04/12/2019

“So, did you hear the story of the Johnstone twins?” That’s right, Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers is back out on another UK tour. Studied by thousands of drama students each year and adored by audiences across the world, this classic musical is showing no signs of stopping. The story tells the lives of two twins, Mickey (Alexander Patmore) and Eddie (Joel Benedict) separated at birth after their mother (Lyn Paul) was coerced into giving away one of her newborns to her employer Mrs Lyons (Chloe Taylor). Convinced by superstitious tales that the twins should never meet again in the interest of their safety, Mrs Johnstone is left with no choice. Alas, living only a stones throw from one another, this inevitable meeting of the unassuming boys was always bound to happen…

Image credit: Robert Day (image shows previous cast)

As one of the first musicals John ever saw which began his love for theatre, this one holds a special place in his heart. We consider this show to be one that would be great to take someone to see who isn’t that into musicals as it’s not too heavy on the “bursting into song” that can put some none-musical-lovers off. Here are our five reasons to see Blood Brothers:

1. Lyn Paul

The iconic role of Mrs Johnstone is played wonderfully by Lyn Paul. From the moment she steps out onto the stage you can feel the passion she puts into every performance. Paul’s affection for the show is quite evident and the way she portrays the characters love for her children is endearing and captivating. You would expect someone at 70 years old to be unsuitable to play this part, but it’s as if this character was written for her. Her songs are sung beautifully with such heart and grace, it really is a privilege to see Paul in this role. The Blood Brothers veteran has played the part countless times over the last 20 years and has been voted as the definitive Mrs Johnstone. Sadly, this is your last chance to see Lyn Paul in Blood Brothers. This tour has been announced as her farewell tour, so see it while you can!

Image credit: Robert Day

2. The acting from the whole cast is superb!

There’s something especially impressive about an actor who has to drastically change their performance as the show goes on, and this show isn’t short of that. Each ensemble member must play at least 4-5 different parts throughout the show. In act 1, actors play children with such energy and portray the kids relatable traits and mannerisms with child’s games and tantrums that get a lot of laughs from the audience. This innocence is broken slightly in act 2 as the cast play attitude filled teenagers in a school setting. Alexander Patmore (Mickey) leads the way with a transformation in his acting, beginning as an energetic 7 (nearly 8) year old working class Liverpudlian who grows up in front of our eyes to a twenty-something clinically depressed man by the end of the second act who is on rock bottom. A masterclass in acting!

Image credit: Robert Day (image shows some of previous cast)

3. The story is quite unusual

Not often do you find a show that opens with the end scene. We see two bodies carried off on stretchers in front of a grieving woman and other on-lookers. With the knowledge that these two characters (immediately introduced by the narrator (Robbie Scotcher) as the Johnstone twins, who announces their death in his first monologue) will meet this fate, the show is carried by a macabre undertone to it all, making the growing fondness for them a bitter pill to swallow.

4. It is timeless British theatre

Blood Brothers has made it’s mark in the West End; a 3 year initial run after opening in 1981 was superseded by the 1988 revival which ran for 24 years and it stands as the third longest running musical in the West End behind Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera.

Packed from start to finish with classic British references, older fans of the musical will have quite the nostalgic trip hearing about the wireless, spam, picking things from the catalogue and the gyro. The working class background of the Johnstone’s gives them an undeniable charm which resonates throughout.

Image credit: Robert Day (image shows some of previous cast)

5. It’s an emotional rollercoaster

Not only is Blood Brothers a heart-wrenching tragedy, it also is full of comedy and drama too. The switching of roles gets a good laugh from the audience, with a gynaecologist looking suspiciously like the milkman and a private school professor turning into a public school teacher on stage, the cast obviously have a lot of fun with their parts. The slapstick comedy is brilliant too, lots of well choreographed pieces give these moments great impact.

The drama increases in act 2; superstitious consciences catching up with both mothers and the recession affecting Mickey but not Eddie really hits hard. This all builds to it’s climatic ending, which won’t leave many dry eyes in the house.

Image credit: Robert Day (image shows some of previous cast)

Blood Brothers is visiting the following venues on this tour. Tickets can be booked directly through the links:

3rd – 7th December 2019: Sunderland Empire Theatre, https://www.atgtickets.com/times/blood-brothers/sunderland-empire/2019-12-06

10th – 14th December 2019: Eastbourne Congress Theatre, https://www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk/events/blood-brothers-0

4th – 8th February 2020: Brighton Theatre Royal, https://www.atgtickets.com/times/blood-brothers/theatre-royal-brighton/

11th – 15th February 2020: Richmond Theatre, https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/blood-brothers/richmond-theatre/

18th – 29th February 2020: Dublin Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, https://bordgaisenergytheatre.ie/artist/blood-brothers2

10th – 14th March 2020: Grimsby, The Auditorium, https://grimsbyauditorium.org.uk/show/blood-brothers-2/

17th – 21st March 2020: Coventry Belgrade Theatre, https://secure.belgrade.co.uk/event/blood-brothers-2020

24th – 28th March 2020: Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, https://www.grandtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/blood-brothers/

31st March – 4th April 2020: Woking New Victoria Theatre, https://www.atgtickets.com/times/blood-brothers/new-victoria-theatre/2020-03-31

7th – 11th April 2020: Lichfield Garrick Theatre, https://lichfieldgarrick.com/whats-on/all-shows/blood-brothers/2518#

By thestageycouple

A married couple sharing our love for Theatre, Film & Tv!

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