Niki and twins

Niki Evans as Mrs Johnstone asking for it not to be true.

Pictures: Jack Merriman

Blood Brothers

Malvern Theatres


In 2022, Blood Brothers has fresh resonances, despite having been written decades ago.

Parents in Afghanistan selling their children to afford food, food banks proliferating around this country as levels of poverty are pinching large numbers, and standards of living declining for many – the contrasting lifestyles and cultures of those who can afford private schooling and those at the other end of the social and economic scale are hugely relevant today as when Willy Russell wrote Blood Brothers in the 1980s.

The story is in many ways contrived: a mother’s dilemma when she understands that she is carrying twins in her womb when she can barely afford to survive with one extra mouth to feed. The story relies upon certain superstitions which are underscored by a narrator who brings an ominous sense of foreboding.

He lurks everywhere, he reminds the mothers that they can never escape the past, that destiny or fate are against them, that the devil is waiting at the door. Above all the play explores the huge divide and disparity between different classes in society – the haves and the have-nots.

This modern classic of the musical theatre enjoys huge popularity as it is brilliant theatre, whatever the ethical or philosophical questions it may pose. There is a lot of humour and witty observation of life: the portrayal of childhood and especially teenage, the contrast in the language and culture of the twins is hugely entertaining, but the sense of doom impending grows as the show progresses.

This show has toured the country on numerous occasions to widespread acclaim. The creative team, Bob Thomson, Bill Kenwright and their colleagues, have built on the success of the show on previous tours. The use of sound, light, set and music is outstanding.  

Mickey and Eddie

Sean Jones as Mickey and Joel Benedict as Eddie

Niki Evans, as Mrs Johnstone, Sean Jones, as Mickey, and Joel Benedict, as Eddie, reprise their roles brilliantly. Nikki Evans has a wonderful voice and provides another tear-jerking performance. Sean Jones and Joel Benedict contrast the working class and mischievous rogue with the starchy public school and middle class boy.

Robbie Scotcher, the Narrator, is a disturbing presence all over the show with his strong harmonious voice and ominous lyrics. Carly Burns is brilliant as Linda, initially the teenager, then as the tragic wife of Mickey. Daniel Taylor is great as the tough and violent Sammy. The rest of the team, Mr and Mrs Lyons, (Tim Churchill and Paula Tappenden) and the ensemble cast, provide plenty of humour and colour to a fast-moving and highly dramatic story.

This outstanding play by Willy Russell presents us with a clash of cultures, classes, with the greater sympathy for the struggles of the disadvantaged working class. That community provides the humour and colour, and their offensive conduct is understood and excused, while we are led to despise to some degree the privileged Lyons and their world.

The brilliance of this show is greeted with a standing ovation at the end from the audience. It runs in Malvern until Saturday 5th March. Don’t miss the opportunity of seeing it this week.

Tim Crow


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