Blood Brothers- Civic Theatre, Darlington
Posted by: The Reviews Hub
Book: Willy Russell
Music/Lyrics: Willy Russell
Director: Bob Tomson, Bill Kenwright
Blood Brothers is a haunting, beautifully tragic show, with genuine humour and pure emotion it begins at the end and then goes on to tell the story of how we got there. Currently in its last few weeks in London’s West End, the tour continues deliver the story of Mrs Johnstone and her twins, now in its 28th year.
Set in Liverpool in the seventies, Marti Pellow snarls his way through the rôle of Narrator, spreading malevolence in his rôle of Devil in human form. Even in scenes where he doesn’t speak his presence just exudes menace. His liverpudlian accent is fine for short sentences but in the longer monologues his accent travels until we are left with a very scary hybrid scouse/Scottish.
X-Factor finalist, Niki Evans, plays poor downtrodden Mrs Johnstone who makes the heart wrenching decision to give one of her twins to infertile employer Mrs Lyons, Tracy Spencer. Evans has a powerhouse of a voice, squeezing every bit of feeling out of her vocals. Her show stopping rendition of Tell Me it’s Not True takes your breath away and your heart genuinely breaks with the raw emotion in her performance.
The twins are played by Jorden Bird as upper class and indulged Eddie, the child who was given away, and James Templeton as Mickey the child who was kept. Templeton delivers an outstanding performance ranging in age over the best part of 20 years. In his hand me down jumper and ragged shorts he is genuinely believable seven year old who is nearly eight, his 14 year old is hilarious and his tragic spiral down into despair in his later years is distressing to watch. Such is the performance that you really do believe in his problems and forget that he is acting.
Olivia Sloyan plays Linda, in love with both brothers and both in love with her. But it is Mickey who marries her after getting her pregnant although it is Eddie who helps her and Mickey in the later years, leading to the ultimate disastrous ending.
The set is simple with just a row of houses and a street with a back drop of the familiar sights of Liverpool. The first half has the old run down inner city estate and the second half the fresh new start in the country. The cast use props to portray the other scenes, such has desks for school and seats for the bus and cinema.
You must take tissues with you to the performance because you will need them, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house last night and the audience in Darlington gave a rousing, deserved, standing ovation to the cast who gave many curtain calls as the cheering and clapping continued for some time.