Book/Music/Lyrics: Willy Russell
Director: Bob Tomson &Bill Kenwright
Reviewer: Sarah O’Toole
“And do we blame superstition for what came to pass? Or could it be what we have come to know as class?”
Even 28 years since this line was first said out loud on a stage, Willy Russell’s long running musical hit, still strikes a chord with its audiences. Who knew that the problems facing his protagonists when he wrote the show in the 80s would be just as poignant and topical nearly three decades later?
The story of twins, separated at birth and growing up unaware that they are brothers has become as well known in British musical theatre as The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables and packs just an emotional punch as them too!
Bob Thomson and Bill Kenwright have fashioned a theatrical hit, from its simple staging which help magnify the cast’s strong performances, the current touring cast is something to behold. From Tracey Spencer’s slightly mad Mrs Lyons to Daniel Taylor’s towering and bullish Sammy – this is ensemble performance at its finest and you can tell that the cast love every minute even from Blood Brothers stalwarts Graham Martin (Policeman and Teacher) and Tim Churchill (Mr Lyons) they give their all on stage.
Holding the fort is Maureen Nolan as Mrs Johnstone who despite being a little wobbly and out of time in the first act, pulls in a performance of great emotional weight and magnitude in the second act, her finale of ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ being truly heartbreaking. Olivia Sloyan is superb in the rôle of young and leggy Linda, fresh and delightful managing to find real depth to the character.
Joining the cast once again is Mark Hutchinson as Eddie – a part he has played all over the world, and its clear to see why he is a fan favourite, he is delightfully naive as the twin given away to better surroundings. In the rôle of Mickey is Sean Jones who has played the rôle for over ten years, here he is as fresh faced and as energetic as when he first stepped into the rôle, and manages to find things to keep the rôle fresh and as heartbreaking as ever.
But the show is completely stolen by Warwick Evans, here is an actor that doesn’t force the presence of the character, but his relaxed persona proves a powerhouse of menace and draws you in even more into this tragic tale.
Beautifully lit by Mark Howet which adds a layer of impending doom to the story and with some fresh new touches here and there help bring around rapturous standing ovation and with not a dry eye in the house Blood Brothers yet again proves what a hit it is.