Lyn Paul as Mrs Johnstone

Blood Brothers

Belgrade Theatre


FOR thirty-odd years Blood Brothers has taken the whole world by storm.

It started as a the kernel of an idea about a mother choosing one twin over the other and bringing that twin up in a completely different environment; a kind of nature/nurture social experiment.

Mrs Johnstone (Lyn Paul) is the central character, mother to nine children in what we would now call a Just-About-Managing family in a deprived area of Liverpool.

She is wonderful – and I’ve seen Barbara Dixon, Kiki Dee, the Nolans, missed Mel C sadly and the most recent Mrs Johnstones.

She plays her with less rant and rave, more subtlety when faced with the outcome of her promise to give one of her twins to the childless lady of the ‘big house’ Mrs Lyons (Sarah Jane Buckley) for whom she cleans.

So Mickey (Sean Jones) and Eddie (Mark Hutchinson) go their separate ways until they are seven and meet accidentally – to become Blood Brothers. All attempts to separate them come to nothing and they become closer and closer. The bond straddles class and opportunity.

Dean Chisnall as narrator delivers the tragic undertow of the story and a sense of foreboding like a Greek chorus. It is riddled with superstition but the light moments provide an escape – particularly the children playing in the street where we first meet Linda (played for this performance by Alison Crawford).

As they grow up, her love of Mickey develops, but Mickey’s depression, anger and brushes with the law make her choose to be a girl again in the arms of the now successful politician Eddie.

The songs are wonderful too, for example Tell Me It’s Not True, Easy Terms are all written by Willy Russell as well. As you’ve noticed I’ve seen this production over and over again very happily and each time a different song sticks in my mind. This time it was a quiet song from Mickey about lazy and lonely Long Sunday Afternoons, joined by Eddie. A mournful saxophone and a sloping stage shiny with wet-look paint that looks like a rainy day adds to the melancholy.

Directed by Bill Kenwright, this is a wonderful, slick production not creaking with age but honed to perfection. The packed audience was on their feet before the final notes. Please go see. To 11-03-17

Jane Howard


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