22-26 March 2016
Reviewed by Linda Pickford
Having heard all the wonderful reviews of Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. I was enthralled from the beginning and certainly agreed with the standing ovation at the end. In fact there were 4 encores which the cast and audience thoroughly relished.
The story centres on a destitute Liverpool mother Mrs Johnstone, played by Lyn Paul, who has been deserted by her husband and left with a large family to look after. She finds that he has also left her pregnant again and this time with twins. She is desperate and unable to see how she will feed and clothe them all. She cleans for a local lady Mrs Lyons, played beautifully by Sarah Hays, who is unable to have her own children. Mrs Lyons hatches a plot whereby she takes one of the twins and brings him up as her own son without even her husband knowing. So we have the experience of the class divide. One boy grows up in a loving but poor family where no one is sure where the next meal is coming from whereas the other lives with money, education, opportunity and a very anxious mother.
The first act opens up on a suitably depressing Liverpool street with the twinkling lights of the city seen in the background. This is adjusted throughout the story by various backdrops. All extremely well executed by Andy Walmsley as befits his reputation as a brilliant designer.
The narrator, Kristofer Harding, kept me wondering whether he was the Devil or the Bogey Man but he was indeed brilliant. He appeared at odd times all over the stage adding to the action without being obtrusive. Initially I thought it was strange to see grown men and woman playing cowboys and Indians as children. This however didn’t last, the acting was superb and I was simply drawn into the sheer enjoyment of play in childhood. The language used was inspirational; Willy Russell at his best.
The twins Mickey (Sean Jones) and Eddie (Joel Benedict) grew up in front of our eyes and did it wonderfully as did Linda (Danielle Corlass) I remember Lyn Paul from her days in the New Seekers stating that she would like to “Teach the World to Sing”. Tonight she demonstrated her vocal versatility ranging from sheer happiness to acute misery. She held the musical together with a brilliant capability right up to the very sad finale.
All in all I would highly recommend you buy a ticket now to visit the Princess Theatre at Torquay to see Blood Brothers. You will roll from laughter to tears but you will not be disappointed.
Tickets cost from £17.90 to £40.40 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Blood Brothers is at the Princess Theatre in Torquay until 26 March 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3023.
Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, TQ2 5EZ | 0844 871 3023