WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It’s a big story, an ovation-inducing stage favourite about twin brothers separated at birth, brought up to live different lives, unknowingly meeting along the way and sharing a ‘blood brothers’ bond. The story weaves around the lifelong angst of the women who mother both boys. Until worlds collide and tragedy strikes. Willy Russell is the writer behind what is known as a milestone musical, seen by record-beating audiences.
WHO’S IN IT?
The pivotal role as Mr Johnstone was taken by understudy Sarah Jane Buckley in the absence of Lyn Paul. She made it her own with a powerhouse of a performance. She plays the poverty-stricken mother of her twins boys, one of whom she gives away as a newborn but who fatefully keeps appearing in her life. The plagued ‘other’ mother, Mrs Lyons is played by Sarah Rayner, strong in the role of a women struggling with the enormity of feelings of being an ‘imposter’ in her maternal role and the agony of keeping her secret.
Our two boys, scally Mickey and posh boy Eddie are played splendidly by the energetic Sean Jones and sensitive and sweet Mark Hutchinson. Mikey’s life spirals into despair as Eddie reaches his potential. What would have happened if they’d swapped places is the question to ponder. Their characters couldn’t be more different, and yet?
Al the time in the shadowy sides we have the narrator, an impressive Matthew Craig in the role as conscience, menace and fateful storyteller.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT?
All human life is here. It gets you thinking. It makes you laugh and it makes your tear up with the amazing, full-on emotional wring out that is the last scene to the soaring anthem, Tell Me It’s Not True. As a musical It’s very much of its time with a definite 80s heartbeat and also serious themes as we see Liverpool’s economic decline played out.
True to Willy Russell’s writing skill it is full of brilliant lines, great emotion, flawed-but-real characters and above all, warmth and authenticity. It’s something of a classic for a reason.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT?
Lovers of a great story, a stirring score and memorable power-packed performances. It takes emotional maelstrom to the max. The second half especially is a riveting, heart-breaking watch.
WHEN IS IT ON?
Blood Brothers is on at Darlington Hippodrome until Saturday.