City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Review: Blood Brothers


By Gordon Clayton - Posted on 04 February 2009

5
Show Details
Company: 
Bill Kenwright by arrangement with Bob Swash
Production: 
Bob Tomson & Bill Kenwright(Directors) Rob Edwards(Musical Supervisor)
Performers: 
Maureen Nolan (Mrs Johnstone), Sean Jones (Mickey), Simon Willmont (Eddie), Robbie Scotcher (Narrator)
Running time: 
165mins

Don't let the mention of blood put you off: this production has humour, pathos and drama in abundance. Written by Willy Russell and set in a working-class area of Liverpool ‘Blood Brothers' introduces Mrs Johnston (Maureen Nolan) from her days being courted as a young woman, through to bringing up a large family on her own, and desperately trying to make ends meet with twins on the way.

In a despairing moment, she agrees to give away one of the twin boys to the childless and very middle-class Mrs Lyons (Tracy Spencer) that she cleans for, and so the scene is set for the drama to unfold.

Maureen Nolan follows sisters Denise, Linda and Bernie in the leading role and she is the equal of, if not surpassing, her siblings. Her voice reverberates around the theatre as she puts herself and the audience through the emotional wringer. The brothers, Mickey (Sean Jones) and Eddie (Simon Willmont) are transformed from kids to two very different adults, with the author's take on whether its class that counts in the nurture-versus-nature debate.

The scenes of them at play and as teenagers are very funny and lifelike. The brothers are ably supported by their lifelong friend, Linda (Anna Sambrooks). The ever present narrator (Robbie Scotcher) provides a dramatic commentary in song and speech as the scenes move speedily along.

Daniel Taylor (Sammy) excels in what is an excellent supporting cast. Unusually, ‘Blood Brothers' returns to one of the songs about Marilyn Monroe at various points during the show but the changing lyrics are effective in telling the story.

The staging is basic, but works well with effective lighting. After 25 years the play's themes of the haves versus the have-not's, gun crime, depression about redundancy and living on the never, never are all too familiar but wrapped in a production that holds you to the end.

Runs to 14th February

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