Blood Brothers: Review

Blood Brothers: Review

Multi-award-winning play Blood Brothers has become one of the most popular British musicals of all time.

Set in post-war Liverpool in the 1960s, Willy Russell’s timeless tale tells the captivating, yet ultimately tragic, story of twin brothers separated at birth and growing up in contrasting worlds.

Blood Brothers, Birmingham Hippodrome, Lyn Paul

When Mrs Johnstone, a young mother, is deserted by her husband and left to her own devices to provide for seven hungry children she takes a job as a housekeeper in order to make ends meet. It is not long before her brittle world crashes around her when she discovers herself to be pregnant yet again – this time with twins! In a moment of weakness and desperation, she enters a secret pact with her employer which leads inexorably to the show’s shattering climax.

This touching tale of unconditional and instinctive brotherly love tarnished with an ever-present sense of impending tragedy – is narrated chillingly throughout the show by Robbie Scotcher. Scotcher was the perfect bridge from the dark to light shifts and between the characters and audience. Lit by a stark white light, he roamed the stage looming menacingly like a bad omen.

After more than 10,000 performances, Blood Brothers continues to stand the test of time – the opening night standing ovation following the heart-rending finale number Tell Me It’s Not True, stands as testament to that.

And its popularity is in no small part due to the beautifully crafted script and score that keeps die-hard fans including myself, returning time and time again.

Blood Brothers, Birmingham Hippodrome, Lyn Paul

Many of said fans will have recognised some of the faces too, among them Lyn Paul reprising the iconic role of Mrs Johnstone for her farewell tour, one she first made her own in London’s West End in 1997. It’s hard to believe Paul is 72 years young and still going strong in the role. A fantastically strong vocal presence too.

And Daniel Taylor returns as twin Mickey’s troublesome older brother Sammy in a role he seems to have made firmly his own.

Strong performances were turned in by Alexander Patmore as Mickey and, last night’s Eddie – Andy Owens. It didn’t take too long to get past their obvious lack of physical likeness (they are supposed to be believable as twins after all!) to buy into the relationship so central to the show.

As a longstanding Blood Brothers fan, I was delighted to be front and centre on its return to the Birmingham stage – and it didn’t disappoint. The production charts its tragic story so beautifully, tentatively, yet often comically and continues to be evergreen to theatre lovers.

In the final scene the tension within the auditorium was palpable (even when, like me, you know what’s coming!) – but was soon to be followed by a rousing ovation from an appreciative audience, for many of whom this marked a long-awaited return to live theatre. It was definitely worth the wait.

Blood Brothers plays at The Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, November 13th. Tickets are available to purchase from the box office here