Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison
Last night I had the opportunity to watch Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers for the third time, I took my husband along with me who had never seen the play before, we both absolutely loved it.
Last time I watched Blood Brothers was at The Lowry (Manchester) in April, this time it was at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool, as the play is set in Liverpool I was looking forward to watching it in the city it is set. Blood Brothers was first performed in 1982, over 35 years later it is still as powerful and relevant and in my opinion one of the best musicals you could possibly see.
Set in Liverpool in the 1960s, tells a tale of twins separated at birth. Mrs Johnstone is a pregnant, single mother who discovers she is carrying not one but two babies. Worried about how she will afford to raise two babies as well as her many other children. Mrs Johnstone confides in her employer, the wealthy Mrs Lyons. A plan is soon hatched for Mrs Lyons to take one of the babies and raise him as her own. The play follows these two boys as they grow into adulthood and despite all obstacles and differences their lives become intertwined.
Most of the cast was the same as when I watched it in April, with the most notable difference being Lyn Paul playing Mrs Johnstone. Lyn Paul has had an impressive singing career since the 1970’s as a member of the New Seekers and has worked with many other artists since then. Lyn has played the role of Mrs Johnstone regularly since making her musical theatre debut in 1997 leading to her being voted the definitive Mrs Johnstone. With this outstanding background I was really looking forward to seeing how Lyn interpreted this role. I was not disappointed, she was absolutely brilliant, bringing comedy and emotion to this amazing show and of course her vocals were flawless.
The rest of the main characters were the same as last time I saw this show. Robbie Scotcher once again took on the role of Narrator and was superb, his voice and performance was so powerful that I had goosebumps and tingles down my spine every single time he spoke, the way he cast a constant shadow over the characters enhanced the drama of the story. The character of Linda was played by Danielle Corlass, she played this part wonderfully, she was completely authentic as both a seven-year-old child and a young woman made old before her time. During the final scenes of the play I felt every emotion she enacted and truly sympathised with her character.
Mickey and Eddie, the brothers at the centre of the story were played by Alexander Patmore and Joel Benedict respectively. Just like all the other actors in this show they played their parts perfectly, although I definitely enjoyed their performances as young boys most of all. Another actor who made the transition from child to adult during the story was Daniel Taylor playing Sammy. After seeing Daniel play this role in April I saw him play a very different role at St Helens Theatre Royal, seeing him again in Blood Brothers reminded me of what a talented actor he is. Those two characters couldn’t be more different, however Daniel’s performance as each of them was absolutely believable and testament to his skills as an actor.
There’s a reason this play has stood the test of time and continues to resonate with audiences around the world, the story explores themes of love, family and class that are just as relevant today. Add the wonderful storyline to this superb cast and it’s a show that’s not to be missed.
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Blood Brothers is at the Liverpool Empire from 3-14 September 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/liverpool or call the box office on 0844 8713017.
Liverpool Empire, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017