Blood Brothers review: the popular show still resonates when it comes to Birmingham Racecourse
Written by Willy Russell, Blood Brothers follows the story of Mickey and Eddie growing up on either side of the tracks, after their mother – Mrs. Johnstone – was forced to hand over one of her twins (Eddie) to her. employer – Mrs. Lyons, believing that she cannot afford to keep him. It’s a decision she comes to regret, however, in a fateful turn of events.
The boys naturally gravitate towards each other and it becomes difficult to separate them, despite Ms. Lyons’ wishes. We follow the couple as they go from boys to men, from the early years of play through adolescence, to raging hormones, and into adulthood.
Even if they look alike “like two new pins”, you quickly realize that class is the factor that divides them. Blood brothers, of course, but no circumstance.
Alexander Patmore (Mickey) and Andy Owens (Eddie) are wonderful as the titular characters. Together, they both captured the essence of being children, as they laughed, joked, threw stones, shared candy, and galloped around the stage as cowboys.
Andy Owens stepped in as an understudy for the role of Eddie and gave an impressive performance.
Patmore’s performance was particularly moving in the closing scenes of the play. Mickey’s insecurities – which started with a slight tug on his vest or his shyness as a teenager – took control as he fell into an emotional state of disrepair. Patmore’s slumped posture and slow speech during the scenes with Linda and Mrs. Johnstone conveyed a poignant sense of brokenness.
Lyn Paul delivers a stunning performance as the superstitious Mrs Johnstone. Paul has reprized the role regularly for the past 20 years and plays Mrs. Johnstone one last time on her farewell tour.
Mrs. Johnstone de Paul is the center of the room. A mother for all; his wealth of experience in the role shines through. The pain on her face and in her voice during the finale of Tell Me It’s Not True remains a haunting image. I felt like I was watching his personal farewell to the character.
Other notable performances include Paula Tappenden, whose excellent portrayal of the desperate Ms. Lyon contrasted sharply with the warm Ms. Johnstone. And Robbie Scotcher, as the “devil” of Narrator and Mrs. Lyons, was an impending presence that propelled the story to its tragic conclusion.
Blood Brothers is a beautifully written piece with an impressive score. The musical has somewhat remained unchanged over time and remains popular with audiences. He received a standing ovation from the public at Birmingham Racecourse last night.