Blood Brothers is set in the inner city of Liverpool. Liverpool at this particular time would have been quite a ruff, and where many single mothers and poor families lived. The docks were getting rundown and as a result there was less employment as jobs were not as plentiful as they had once been, and with growing unemployment there came other social problems. The play Blood Brothers is about two twin brothers separated at birth. There are five main characters in this play; Eddie and Mickey (the two twins) Mrs Johnstone (the birth mother) Mrs Lyons, and Linda.
One of the twins (Eddie) is given away at birth to Mrs Lyons a rich lady whom Mrs Johnstone works for. Mrs Lyons is unable to bear a child and so is given one of the boys (Eddie). Mrs Johnstone gives her the child as she cannot afford to keep another child in her household. Throughout the play we see each of boys growing up and becoming very close friends. We see them both go through the hardships in life (mostly Mickey). In the end of the play we see both of the twins suffer and die, in what is an extremely powerful ending.
Russell uses this plot to show us/the audience how hard and unfair life can be. He does this by contrasting the differences between the two families. One of the obvious factors that he points out to us is money. Mickey lives in an extremely diminutive sized house in a rundown area of Liverpool. Mickeys mother Mrs Johnstone is in major debt and because of this Mickey isn’t used to things like toys and sweets. He’s used to broken toys, and his sweets being urinated on by his older brother Sammy. We can see that sweets are a luxury for him as we see in this particular section.
Here we see Eddie offering him a sweet and Mickey replying with “are you soft? ” we can almost immediately tell he is not used to people being so generous and nice to him. As Mickey comes from quite a rough area, the games he plays are quite violent and aggressive. This often gets him into trouble, sometimes with the police. His brother Sammy is quite rough and is always getting into trouble with the police, this has an affect on Mickey as he looks up to Sammy, and his brother is like a role model to him.
In certain parts of the play Russell makes different contrasts between the Lyons and the Johnstones. For example in one of the scenes a policeman catches Eddie and Mickey throwing stones at property in the park. The policeman has to make a visit to each of the boys parents. First he visits Eddie’s house. He is offered whiskey from Eddie’s father, which is quite a friendly gesture. He makes out that Eddie had done nothing wrong and that ‘he’s not a bad lad’. He suggests that what happened was just a silly “prank”- suggesting he was just having a bit of fun.
However, when the policeman visits Mickey’s house he places all of the blame on Mickey. He uses a much harsher language and tone as we see. The police officer calls Mickey a “troublemaker” and a “pain to society”. The policeman stereotypes Mickey. This is because he comes from the rougher inner city of Liverpool. As a result of this they are automatically not given a chance in life. Russell uses this example to show us that even though Mickey is not a bad lad he has already been marked as a troublemaker. He also shows how difficult it is for people to overcome attitudes like this.
Mickey attends a local school, and receives a very poor education. Mickey’s school life is very disruptive. He is taught about ‘tribes in the African jungle’. He gets very frustrated as he feels he does not need to know half the stuff his teachers tell him, and feels that his teachers are not really preparing him to get a job when he leaves school, this will affect him later in his life. Russell uses this example to let us know that sometimes education lets the Mickey’s of this world down. However Eddie has a much higher level of education, because he can afford too.
Again here, Russell highlights the unfairness for some people. When Mickey eventually leaves his school, he goes on to work in a ‘box factory’ (putting cardboard boxes together) which pays very little. Mickey gets made redundant because the company he works for can no longer afford to pay him. As a result of this Mickey becomes stressed, turns to crime and ends up in prison and dependant on drugs. This has an effect on Linda (his wife). She is struggling through her life because she hasn’t got Mickey to help her out (financially).
Also, she is pregnant and has know one to talk too and support her. Prison changes Mickey in various ways. It makes him feel as if he’s had to grow up quickly, especially with a baby on the way and Linda to support. We see Mickey has changed when Eddie comes to visit him at Christmas. Eddie is excited and ready to party, but Mickey thinks he’s being silly and tells him he cannot afford to. Eddie tells him he will pay and that it will make him happy. This example is important because in a way it sums up what Russell is saying.
Eddie thinks money can solve everything and has a carefree attitude. Where as Mickey, as he says has had to ‘grow up quickly’, and tells Eddie that Blood Brothers is “kids stuff”. In ‘Blood Brothers’ Russell has certain ideas and images running through the play. These help him to make his points and they link the events that happen as they grow through the play. At certain points in the play Russell refers a lot to dancing. He uses this to show the good times e. g. When Mrs Johnstone is first married. He also uses it to show the bad times.
For example when he describes Mickey’s mind ‘dancing’. He shows us how Mickey has become extremely depressed and how he’s changed from the lively young kid at the beginning of the play. Russell also refers to guns a great deal e. g. when they were kids they would play games where they would shoot each other. Later on in the play he brings the gun into it again, this time it’s being used in a real situation-the robbery Mickey takes part in. Russell mentions Marilyn Monroe who was a famous (if not most famous of cinema pin-ups). Her life was one of highs and lows.
She suffered from depression and died of a drug overdose. (There is still uncertainty as to whether her death was an accident or suicide. ) Again Russell uses her image to show the good and bad times in the play. The narrator appears throughout the play-often when things seem to be getting better. He suggests that, no matter what, it is as if fate is saying that there’s no escape from the tragic end of the play. All of the factors Russell refer to help to show the good and bad times and help draw our attention to the various events that affect Mickey’s life, in particular.