Theatre review - Blood Brothers, Lowther Pavilion, Lytham

Blood Brothers – Lytham Anonymous Players – Lowther Pavilion, Lytham

Blood Brothers – Lytham Anonymous Players – Lowther Pavilion, Lytham - Credit: Archant

The Lytham Anonymous Players stage a production of the famous Willy Russell play.

Playwright Willy Russell is a hugely important figure in not just our culture, but also our education. His play, “Blood Brothers” is known all over the world and was the inspiration behind the musical version of this much-loved tale. It is a story that has been performed on stages and taught in our schools across the land for many, many years.

Russell’s story plays upon the importance of social class and welfare, but also the temptation of fate and superstition which is heavily narrated throughout the story. Mrs. Johnston is the head of a lower-class family in Liverpool. She is a single mother to a tribe of children with another already on the way and no husband or father to help support her. She finds work cleaning for Mrs. Lyons who, in many ways, is the complete opposite of Mrs. Johnston. She is from an upper-class background living in the nicer area of the town and wants for nothing, except a child which she cannot have.

When Mrs. Johnston discovers the baby inside her is, in fact, babies, Mrs. Lyons offers to buy one from her to separate them, to help her out and to give one of the children a better life. Mrs. Johnston is hesitant at first, but gradually succumbs. A dark veil is then drawn over both women and their children, a veil of lies, deceit and superstition underline the threat that the truth of who these two children are to each other could prove fatal.

Director Anthony Stone is no stranger to the theatre, but this is his first outing with the Lytham Anonymous Players and an outing that will never be forgotten. The traditional theatre style of the Lowther Pavilion was gone and instead the auditorium was transformed into a round theatre with the action of the story played out right in front of our feet. He has taken this well-known production, turned it on its head and made it his own piece of work and the result is truly breath-taking. The narrative comes with a dark, broody backdrop of light, mist and music which adds authenticity and realism to the story casting a murky fog over the play intertwined with moments of light-heartedness and clarity.

With superb direction comes superb talent to play out this fabulous story and the talent is definitely the best I have witnessed from an amateur group in a long time. The sublime Steve Deveney took on a multitude of roles from Milkman and Doctor, but the stand out performance was that of the narrator. His husky tones washed over the audience to bring a fierceness to the story and added plenty of chills. There was wonderful support from some brilliant young actors Skye Emily Morrison, Aimee Morrow, Georgia Ashlee Ann Tate, Bella Simpson and Edward Thomson, not just for their roles in the family or their parts in the ensemble, but their true grit, graft and determination all handled professionally and effortlessly in front of a watching audience throughout the show. Sara Morris should also take credit for her efforts as the neighbour, the policewoman and as part of the ensemble, all roles which she made totally separate from each other. Caroline Heywood and Siobhan O’Doherty as Mrs. Johnston and Mrs. Lyons respectively were truly magnificent in their renditions. The different levels of their acting abilities were sensational. Caroline Heywood’s character was warm and kind and she often brought out periods of true emotion. Siobhan O’Doherty mirrored her co-star so well and the decline of her character was captured perfectly in scenes that often brought tears to the eyes. These talented ladies can share their credit with Laura Cullen as Linda, David Chalk as Eddie and Chris Bill as Micky in truly astonishing performances. The transformations of all these characters were incredible and not just through appearance, but through the acting as well, the changes of mannerisms and attitudes of the characters over a period of time were flawless.

The Lytham Anonymous Players have once again challenged themselves and with this performance they have raised the bar for the standards of amateur theatre in this country. Anthony Stone should be proud, not just of his work, but for the talented cast he has worked with and nurtured over the past few months to bring us an exhilarating performance of tension, emotion, hilarity and real life and as the lights faded, the audience got to their feet to show their appreciation of one of the most superb pieces of amateur theatre in history.

Tickets are selling fast for the shows on Thursday 12th April, Friday 13th April and Saturday 14th April, so book now to avoid disappointment.