REVIEW: Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers
As she took her final bows to the standing ovation in Milton Keynes Theatre last night, Niki Evans looked emotionally exhausted.
The actress had just given an incredible performance as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers, in a show which left the audience feeling similar to how she looked.
Powerful, thought-provoking and funny, Willy Russell’s musical is as relevant today as it was 28 years ago when it premiered in Liverpool.
For the uninitiated, Blood Brothers tells the story of twins separated at birth, one who is raised by a wealthy family and the other by a single working-class mother.
Twists of fate cause their paths to cross time and again, until a dramatic and devastating climax.
Evans was joined by the fantastic Marti Pellow as the narrator, whose strong stage presence even when he was lurking in the shadows served to remind the audience of the darker elements of the play, and delivered the important messages of the show.
The brothers, Sean Jones (Mickey) and Jorden Bird, (Eddie), were frighteningly convincing in every scene, from their entrance as seven-year-olds (nearly eight!), through their teenage years and development into men.
The transformation of Jones from an innocent, warm young boy filled with life and energy, into a down-trodden man old before his time, broken by years in prison, his dependence on anti-depressants and the harsh realities of life, is done with devastating effect.
While the characters of Mickey and Eddie could easily slip into stereotypes of the hard-done by working class lad and spoilt upper class toff, the spirit both actors bring to the parts mean the audience can’t help but fall for them.
Despite their different upbringings, the bond between them and the cheeky traits they share is obvious, and Jones and Bird created very convincing, real, characters.
Of course the musical numbers were as crucial as the acting, and they did not disappoint.
The sound and lighting team should also be commended, as they helped build the fantastic atmosphere throughout the show, and particularly in the thrilling scene with Shoes Upon the Table/Madman, which set audience members’ hearts racing as the action built to the final explosion.
Blood Brothers is a play everyone should watch - you won’t be able to stop thinking about it once you’ve seen it - and it doesn’t get much better than this production at Milton Keynes Theatre.
From October 2- 6.
by Connie Primmer
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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