Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
Last night we went to Blackpool Opera House to see the hit musical Blood Brothers. Situated within Blackpool’s famous Winter Gardens, the Opera House is one of the UK’s biggest theatres and seats almost 3,000 people. The theatre is in the town centre so there is plenty of parking available and the car park we used was only a few minutes walk away and cost £3 for the evening.
Blood Brothers is a musical written by Liverpudlian playwright Willy Russell. It tells the story of twin boys, Mickey and Eddie who are separated at birth and brought up in completely different environments in the city. The musical is set in the 1960’s with Eddie living a life of privilege with the wealthy Lyons family whilst Mickey lives with his birth mother, Mrs Johnstone, and seven older siblings in the slums of Liverpool. The boys don’t meet until they are seven years old but immediately become best friends and blood brothers. The musical tells the story of how they came to be separated, of Mrs Johnstone’s feelings of guilt and how, despite not knowing of the other’s existence, their paths manage to cross repeatedly over the years. Eventually they both fall for the same girl leading to a dramatic conclusion and the truth is finally revealed. With themes of social deprivation, class, inequality, violence, and superstition running through it is a very thought provoking and entertaining musical.
The musical is very cleverly written and the use of a narrator was very effective. Robbie Scotcher was an excellent narrator, telling the story but also questioning the morality of what the characters are doing at various stages during the show.
Alexander Patmore as Mickey and Joel Benedict as Eddie were superb, their portrayal of carefree children aged 7 “but nearly 8” was fun to watch and they carried on their excellent performances through the teenage years, and into adulthood. It is unusual for children to be played by an adult but it did work very well and the actors looked like they were having lots of fun portraying the two boys!
Whilst the whole cast was excellent the star of the show has to be Linzi Hateley as Mrs. Johnstone, the struggling single mother of seven children who makes the painful decision to give away one of her babies. She was on stage for most of the night and shared a whole host of emotions with us. She has an amazing voice and was a joy to watch.
There were some great characters in the play with the milkman, judge and debt collector adding plenty of humour to the night. Another highlight of the night was the scene when they visited the fair at New Brighton, the rollercoaster scene worked incredibly well and was perfectly choreographed.
The stage at the Opera House is quite large and was transformed into a typical Liverpudlian street scene with a view of the famous Liver Building in the background. It looked very effective and was quickly adapted to reflect the different locations in the story.
Despite tackling the very serious issues of class, poverty and mental health there was plenty of humour and we found ourselves on a rollercoaster of emotions, laughing one minute and almost crying the next. The show ended on a high with a very well deserved standing ovation for the cast.
The show is on at Blackpool until the 27th April and judging from the number of people at the theatre it is proving very popular so I would recommend that you book your tickets now. This is an amazing show and well worth a trip to Blackpool to see it.
Tickets cost from £15 (booking fees may apply).
Blood Brothers at the Blackpool Opera House from 23-27 April 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 856 1111.
Winter Gardens & Opera House Theatre, 97 Church Street, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1HL