Reviewed by Cate Norris
Selling out to audiences for over thirty years, Blood Brothers is one of the most acclaimed musicals of its time. Dealing with some hard-hitting issues, including nature vs nurture, inequality and poverty, the story is about twin boys, Mickey (Sean Jones) and Eddie (Mark Hutchinson) who were separated at birth due to their birth mother’s (Mrs Johnstone – Lyn Paul) inability to meet the demands of life as a single parent and provide for her already large family. Promised by her boss, Mrs Lyons (Sarah Jane Buckley), who is unable to have her own child, that she will take one of the twins and raise him as her own, Mrs Johnstone feels that this is her only option. Mickey and Eddie experience upbringings which are polar opposites, but their pull to one another is magnetic, spinning their mothers into a state of despair and placing poor friend Linda (Danielle Corlass) in the eye of the storm.
The cast captured childhood and play superbly well. Not least, Danielle Corlass who whined and jumped on her make-believe horse with Mickey, and then transformed into a ‘typical’ hormonal teen. Sean Jones was exceptional playing seven (sorry, nearly eight) year old Mickey and the transition from an adventurous, slightly shy, somewhat awkward kid, to an utterly broken man was incredibly tough to watch. Maintaining the high emotion, Lyn Paul effectively conveyed the desperation of living on the ‘never, never’ and the agony of parting with a child. In addition, Sarah Jane Buckley demonstrated the angst of not being able to have children, always anxious that the child could be taken away. The innermost thoughts of these women were shared by narrator Matthew Craig who was always there, looming in the background with an almost intimidating presence – a constant reminder of the deed that had been done and the debt to be paid!
Last but not least, Mark Hutchinson delighted as sweet, charming, loyal and dependable Eddie. Despite him being the more fortunate of the two, I felt so sorry for him, he still appeared to be the victim, oblivious to the circumstances and I wondered at times – is he happy?
This show was highly charged and moving. This was emphasised by dark lighting which created an eerie atmosphere, with red tones constantly reminding that we were leading up to something awful happening. Heavy music aroused alertness throughout and created an unsettling, unnerving vibe. Yet when the tragic climax was reached I still felt shocked, and a little disturbed. I had formed an emotional connection with these characters which was then ripped from me in an utterly heart-breaking fashion. I was so overwhelmed at that point and the whole show had been an overload of emotion that I felt that I really could have done without seeing it, but in actual fact, I think that something that is capable of evoking such a powerful emotional response is tremendous and I will never forget it which is what makes Blood Brothers so special and is why it gets a standing ovation time and time again.
Tickets cost from £22.50 to £57 (booking fees may apply).
Blood Brothers is at the Wolverhampton Grand from 16-21 April 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.grandtheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01902 429 212.
The Grand Theatre Wolverhampton, Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1DE