Willie Russell’s Blood Brothers
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
The iconic Blood Brothers returns to Wolverhampton in this sublime interpretation guaranteed to have you laughing hysterically one minute and in floods of tears minutes the next. Surrounding the exploits of the Johnstone twins Mickey and Edward who, when separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks in tough Liverpool. Despite Edward enjoying all the advantages of wealth while Mickey has struggled in depression hit Liverpool, the two strike up an unlikely friendship, forging a blood pact. As the poison of the secret increases the ‘mother’ of Edward descends into madness fearing the truth will be revealed. Ultimately the friendship of the two brothers proves disastrous. Sufficed to say this is not one for those who enjoy a happy ending!
The cast of this latest interpretation were superb and have continued the long, distinguished history of this play. Throughout the crowd are treaded to the mesmerising vocals of Lyn Paul, former member of 70’s group New Seekers. She is excellent in her reprisal of the role that she first took in 1997. Her portrayal of loving mother and hard Liverpudlian is excellent, even maintaining traces of the accent in her musical scores. She engages with the audience who can’t help but empathise with her plight.
This play is also rich with young talent whom display a wealth of maturity and experience. Notable performance of the evening was the charismatic Sean Jones who played Mickey. Also reprising his role, he seamlessly flowed between the cheeky, lovable rogue that Mickey is through the first half into the depressive drug addicted Mickey, who has been hardened by the toughness of his upbringing. He was responsible for the largest laughs and the largest tears.
Other notable performances come from Tracey Spencer and Robbie Scotcher. Spencer played the part of Mrs Lyons, the ‘mother’ of Edward. Her portrayal of a woman descending into madness had an eerie feel to it and made the hairs stand on the back of your neck. Her desperation to conceal the secret that has blighted their lives oozes from her performance.
Likewise, Scotcher who played the narrator generated an immense sense of foreboding and was an ominous presence on the stage – like a shadow of the tragedy that was about to unfold. While his timing was sometimes off, the manner in which he skulked around the stage was exquisite.
As always the musical score was exceptional as was the set design and use of props, particularly from Mickey and his green jumper. Despite its age, this play has the ability to captivate audiences of all ages and is assured a long future to come. In what was certainly the best performance I have seen this year, I laughed, I cried and I’d do it all again.
Tickets: £8.50 – £32.50 (and selling out fast)