Blackpool Winter Gardens – until Saturday 15 October 2022
Reviewed by Debra Skelton
I am so glad that Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers is back in Blackpool, as I never had the chance to watch this highly acclaimed show before. Being able to attend the opening night was so exciting for me and I can truly say that I was not disappointed.
Blood Brothers is a musical about twin brothers separated at birth who grow up on opposite sides of the tracks and both never knowing the truth about their relationship until the very end. The story is set in Liverpool during the mid-eighties where working-class families struggled to make ends meet and unemployment levels were high. By presenting the way families had to live back then, this was crucial to truly understanding the life of Mrs. Johnstone and why the lives of both Mickey and Eddie differed so much. It showed the difference in schooling, their financial situations which defines their class which ultimately divides them and is a motivator for their demise.
The show covers themes from superstition to social class and the very different lives the two brothers were set to lead. Throughout the show, the Narrator (Richard Munday) remains on stage, watching and lurking in the background and keeps reminding the characters of the awful fate if the brothers ever discovered the truth. As the start of the show, we see the bodies of the two men being covered and a mother crying which forewarned the audience from the start that something forbidding is going to happen.
Niki Colwell Evans (from The X-Factor) played the role of Mrs Johnstone to perfection showing how she coped as a single mother with little money and the love and affection for her children. Her amazing voice and presence on the stage was a true pleasure to watch.
Both Sean Jones (Mickey) and Jay Worley (Eddie) provided an entertaining performance of acting like children shooting guns, pulling their sweaters over their knees, and burying worms, to becoming adults which was truly believable.
The whole cast of this production are incredibly talented and showed their ability to be versatile by playing different characters.
The show also needs special thanks to Andy Walmsley for creating such an adaptable set, Dan Samson for the wonderful sound, Nick Richings for the lighting and Matt Malone for the marvellous music.