Blood Brothers is an extremely established musical with a long history of popularity. Written in 1983 by Wiley Russell and loosely based on a story he had read as a child (though some argue it is very similar to Alexandre Dumas’s 19th century Corsican Twins) it has been revived numerous times and proved a hit with most audiences. This production is being put on by Bill Kenwrights Theatre Company – one of the largest based in the UK – and is touring around several venues this year.
Blood Brothers is the epitome of a soap opera on stage (with music)! Following the story of the ‘Johnstone twins’ – Mickey and Eddie – the plot ends up becoming predictable to the point of incredulity. The twins separated at birth, end up becoming best friends as children, although this ‘blood’ bond is tested in later years. Although raised in very different circumstances – one upper class the other working class – they still get on – however the ‘class divide’ starts to show as they get older, culminating in a dramatic showdown where neither twin gets a better deal, both lose out…
Blood Brothers was an entertaining musical but unfortunately is outdated. The class divide and the effect it has on people’s futures is still very relevant in today’s societies, especially today where the divides between middle and working is shrinking but that between middle and upper is becoming unattainable. It is interesting for a musical to raise the question of displacement and it is clear to see the ‘effect’ moving one identical twin to a different background has on it’s quality of lifestyle. The way in which the musical handled mental health was sadly old-fashioned and insensitive. When Mickey suffers from depression in prison it is dealt with in a derogatory way, implying that depression is both a choice and a decision and it makes it come across as a mentally incapacitating disease rather than the hormonal imbalance most people know it as today. It is very misogynistic – although the mother is the main character – really the purpose of the three female characters is to provide children, tend the house and tempt the men. There was no attempt to develop their characters or allow them to develop much of a personality. Mickey’s daughter never ever appears on stage which would possibly have helped add some much needed sympathy towards his character at the end.
The set was very classic musical – wonderfully realistic houses built on either side of the stage. The backdrop was very quaint and switched from town to country creating scene changes seamlessly. The production team also exceed at flying down pieces of staging such as two flats that descended to create Eddie’s ‘mum’s’ posh family house
The cast overall was very talented. Lyn Paul was fantastic as the mother with a voice that commanded the stage. However the music itself wasn’t very spectacular. Usually as famous as musical as Blood Brothers has several well known songs but instead the majority of the songs had repetitive scores which became rather boring and repetitive.
To conclude it was an enjoyable production which the more mature audience enjoyed due to its previous popularity but it is outdated. A good family outing but not exactly groundbreaking anymore.