Writer: Willy Russell
Director: Bob Tomson
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
“Did you ever hear the story of the Johnston twins? As like each other as two new pins. How one was kept and one given away. How they were born and they died on the self-same day.”
Whether new to the story or if Blood Brothers is a firm favourite, this production is a must see. Following the lives of Mickey and Eddie, twins secretly separated at birth, Willy Russell’s superb writing strikes the exact right balance between the comedy and tragedy of the tale; the audience crying tears of laughter and tears of sorrow all in the space of one show.
The Nolan Sisters seem to have the monopoly on playing Mrs Johnston, the working class mother faced with the agony of giving up one baby in order to prevent her other children from going into care, with Maureen Nolan currently in the rôle and giving a solid performance.
Craig Price as the Narrator has a wonderfully sinister presence throughout, his characterisation complemented brilliantly by Mark Howett’s lighting design which often enables him to lurk in the shadows or leaves him as a silhouette in the background, barely noticeable yet always there.
The stand out performance of the show is easily Sean Jones as Mickey. It is a huge task to play the same character from a seven year old boy to a young man, old before his time, yet Jones creates an engaging, well rounded character throughout and draws you into Mickey’s life story. The change in character as Mickey grows up is huge, from a fun loving child that has you laughing out loud with his antics to a depressed young man whose pain is shared by the audience, Jones is totally believable throughout and his acting is matched by his beautiful vocals, particularly in his spine tingling Long Sunday Afternoon.
With such a strong portrayal of Mickey it would be very easy for the gentler persona of Eddie to be cast aside as a secondary character, but Mark Hutchinson bounces wonderfully off Jones, creating a sweet, lovable Eddie who endears himself, defying anyone not to fall for his rendition of I’m Not Saying a Word.
Throughout the whole show the cast are completely engaging, drawing you into their world and making you a part of it – lose yourself in this musical.