Blood Brothers tells the story of Mrs Johnstone (played by Niki Colwell Evans), a working-class mother in Liverpool who discovers she is having twins. Struggling to care for the children she already has, she makes an agreement with Mrs Lyons (played by Paula Tappenden). A wealthy woman who cannot have children, she convinces Mrs Johnstone to give her one of the twins who she will raise as if he were her own. But, they must never find out they are twins because of the dark superstition that would occur.

Credit: Jack Merriman

The musical portrays the two boys’ lives and their mother’s efforts to keep them apart, intertwining class, superstition, and fate. Starting by revealing the ending, the chronological structure shows the significant points leading to that moment. The audience watches the twins grow from children to adults and how differently their upbringing is due to their class. On paper it could sound like a bad idea; however, the actors play it in such a perfectly-balanced way that all the comedic elements hit, and pure innocence is depicted through Willy Russell’s time capsule writing. This lends perfectly for the shift in pace in the second half and is a true example of how a show can change so drastically.

A big element of musicals is obviously the music, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Evan’s rendition of ‘Tell Me Not True,’ as well as the rest of her mesmerizing performance, is flawless. The songs range from upbeat to melancholic, giving me shivers one moment and making me tap my toes the next.

Credit: Jack Merriman

Sean Jones, who is well-known for his commendable dedication for the role of Mickey (playing this character on and off for over twenty years!). Each performance is like the first time he has played it, bringing the same energy, passion, and spark to each show. He is a true talent to see, and one that is worth catching whilst he is in this role. In contrast, the new Eddie, Joe Sleight brings a fresh approach to the role with noticeable mannerisms, innocence, and charm, which is needed for this part. Throughout the story, his character provides humor in ignorance and a loving naivety to love and reality. The use of the narrator (played eerily effortlessly by Richard Munday) is so clever in depicting superstition and how each choice creates a rippled outcome which eventually leads to the pinnacle ending. His character creates a shift in atmosphere and mood with each entrance, bringing me to the edge of my seat with anticipation.

Credit: Jack Merriman

Some elements of the show feel outdated, whether due to the time period, melodramatic elements, or sharply-timed lighting changes. However, the topics approached are timeless, and I feel the context will always have an importance on stage, as well as in schools, with so many layers to impact.

Each part of this show is well-thought-out and uses so many classic techniques, time shifts, and juxtaposition of two different classes that truly stand the test of time even though set in the 1960s. Although a few alternations could be made, there is no denying the pure talent that is delivered with a creditable step from Russel’s writing.

Credit: Jack Merriman

This is just one of those shows you have to watch to experience the journey that is a rollercoaster through all emotions. There are many different elements that there is sure to be something for everyone. Currently at Richmond Theatre until the 25th of February, and touring around the UK for the rest of 2023, there are plenty of opportunities to catch this must-see classic.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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