Reviewed by Katy Hart
Blood Brothers is one of those iconic musicals I’ve always intended to go and see, but never quite managed to until last evening. It is introduced on the New Theatre’s ticketing website as being a multi award winning musical, written by Willy Russell and with over 10,000 performances in London’s West End it is one of only three musicals to have achieved that milestone. When something is billed to be that good, there is always an element of me that expects it not to live up to expectation. However, last evening did not disappoint, it was everything and more. It is a beautiful, yet tragic story of friendship, love and loss.
The story begins in the 1960’s with Mrs Johnstone struggling to bring up her seven children single handed, and then finding out she is pregnant with twins. Finding herself in a desperate situation the twin boys, Mickey and Eddie are separated at birth. One being raised by a wealthy but childless family who Mrs Johnstone was employed by, and the other staying with Mrs Johnstone.
The boys grow up living in different worlds, but at a young age when the boys coincidently meet, they discover they share the same birthday and they make a pact to be ‘Blood Brothers’. Through the years their friendship grows despite the huge differences in their social status and education. Mrs Johnstone is overcome with guilt and deeply feels the loss of the child she gave away. She is very superstitious and lives her life worrying that her secret will be found out. Mrs Lyons is fraught with worry and anxiety that her son, Eddie will realise he isn’t hers. When the mothers discover that the boys have met each other and become friends they both try their utmost to separate them and to protect their secret. As you can imagine this is a highly emotive storyline.
Linzi Hateley plays the role of Mrs Johnstone. She gave such a beautiful and moving performance, making you really empathise with the awful and desperate situation she found herself in. Her vocals were incredible. Also worthy of a mention was the Narrator played by Robbie Scotcher. His part was so cleverly woven into the performance, and his delivery and vocals were also incredible.
The musical numbers include Marilyn Monroe, Shoes Upon the Table, Bright New Day and the emotional Tell Me It’s Not True.
The performance was totally worthy of the standing ovation and I’m so glad to have finally been able to have been able to see this musical.
The New Theatre is a great venue in the centre of Oxford, a lovely warm welcome greeted us from the cold outdoors. It’s worth arriving early to enjoy a relaxing drink in the Piano Bar.
Running Time: 2 hours 45 minutes (including interval)
Tickets cost from £15.90 to £56.90 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Blood Brothers is at the New Theatre in Oxford from 26 November to Saturday 1 December 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/oxford or call the box office on 0844 871 3020.
New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG | 0844 871 3020