Blood Brothers – Blackburn Drama Club Thwaites Empire Theatre, Blackburn - Wednesday 2nd October 2013

Blood Brothers – Blackburn Drama Club

Blood Brothers – Blackburn Drama Club - Credit: Archant

Blood Brothers – Blackburn Drama Club Thwaites Empire Theatre, Blackburn - Wednesday 2nd October 2013

Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers has been running in the West End for an incredible 24 years. The stage version of the musical is brought to the North West by Blackburn Drama Club.

Set in Liverpool, the story of Blood Brothers centres primarily around superstition. It is about the decisions that we have to make it life for the better even if they are the decisions that we may not agree with. It depicts social stance and welfare and the effect it can have on the upbringing of two opposite existences.

Mrs. Johnstone is a single mother. Already with seven children and a husband that has left her she finds out that she is expecting again, but not just the one baby. Two. She has settled herself into a routine cleaning for Mrs. Lyons, a rich woman who lives at the other side of town. During one conversation Mrs. Lyons confesses to Mrs. Johnstone that she and her husband are unable to have children. It is just after this revelation that Mrs. Johnstone discovers she is expecting twins which will affect all of her plans. Mrs. Lyons formulates an idea to take one of the twins and claim it as her own and Mrs. Johnstone reluctantly agrees to it.

The action fast forwards eight years and the twins, Mickey and Edward, unexpectedly meet up and become best friends. They form a bond together, a bond made by blood. To become Blood Brothers. It is an agreement that they will always be there for each other and look out for each other. The boys mother’s discover this bond and instantly try to eradicate it by moving away to separate them knowing that the truth of their real identities will eventually kill them.

Fate, however, continues to bring the pair together and over the years in every eventuality, they take different paths in life which affects their relationship.

Director Paul Mason has taken a simplistic look at the play and modernised it to a new generation. The layout of the stage itself is basic with the focus being directed purely at the actors as opposed to the surroundings. A large video screen was used upstage to depict a setting, and was cleverly used to segregate each scene headed by a year, a list of key facts that occurred during that particular year and accompaniment of music from the era. It was a clever way to alternate the time zone for each part of the play and to set the scene.

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The narration, provided in the form of a song for the musical, was provided in direct dialogue by Keith Walmsley delivering lines with a dark monotone to add an element of significance to each scene. We are first introduced to Mrs. Johnstone (cast as “The Mother”) in the opening scene and portrayed beautifully by Claire St. Pierre who really captured the struggle and afflictions of a single mother’s life in a heart breaking enactment. Another strong performance was that of Mrs. Lyons who was played by Heidi Needham. She crafted the character well and developed her throughout the first act to a level of pure brilliance with the paranoia really showing through in the second act. Patrick Walsh bursts onto the stage in a phenomenal performance as Micky.

Micky at the start of the play is an eight-year old boy who meets Edward played by the exceptional Dylan Allcock. The pair, in terms of the characters, couldn’t be further apart from each other, but brought together made the performance delightful. The transition of characteristics throughout the years was perfect as we watched them grow up on stage. Gemma Nightingale later joins the performance as Linda, the object of both Micky and Edward’s affections. The performances of the three as they progress from innocent children to fully grown adults were absorbing and a joy to watch. Performances of such magnitude deserve to be on a professional stage. Paul Mason’s direction merged between comedy and drama with extremely strong, moving pieces from all the cast involved.

The climax of the second act was powerful with the tension increasing throughout from electrifying performances. Blackburn Drama Club were extremely hospitable and very warming to welcome me in to see their show and I was fortunate enough to meet with some key members of the society and the director afterwards. Club secretary Anita Shaw was even kind enough to give me a tour backstage. The group deserve the highest accolade for a show that could have easily played on the West End and performances that will stay with you long after the curtain comes down.

Credit goes to everyone involved with this Production and proof again, if it is needed, that Amateur Theatre truly is on the way up and Blackburn Drama Club have helped lift it higher.

The show runs until October 5th. Curtain up at 7:30pm.

For further information regarding Blackburn Drama Group please visit their website: @RobGemmell1