On Thursday the second of October 2003 3:00pm my drama group went to the theatre production ‘Blood Brothers’ at the Phoenix Theatre in Charing Cross Road, London. The theatre appeared to be quite old, like many theatres around Covent Garden its rooms were furnished with red carpets on the floor, glossy serving counters, wooden carved decors and chandeliers in the hallways. The actual auditorium, however, was quite small; the seats were set and had boxes on either side.
My group sat in the stalls, which is on the lowest level and I did not have the time to venture up to the other circles. My seat was L 23 and I faced the stage from stage right but the angle didn’t come in the way when the play was on. The stage was an end on proscenium arch. Instead of a curtain, when I went in I saw a gauze, through it some dark outlines could be made out I think that the shadowy effect created by the gauze helped emphasize the suspense.
The play started with an overture coming from the second floor of the set while the auditorium was still light and noisy, when the lights dimmed a red flood light was lit behind the gauze and the outlines turned out to be stretchers at this point they also lit a gobo onto the gauze. The gobo was in a strange shape that could have been veins or something very close to it, the shape was a contemporary shape used to make the audience think. Then, people started to come on slowly, two lay down on the stretchers and a red cover was used to cover them, the others stood around looking grieved.
Suddenly the overture went quieter and the narrator started to speak, I listened and realised that this was the end of the story, I thought this a very effective way to start, especially how the mood suddenly switched as the story went back in time. Other uses of lighting were also interesting, in the scene where the twins go to the cinema, the light flickering onto their faces made it look very real and the fun fair and bar signs that were flown in gave extra set effects to the night time town.
Also lights were used to make the tableaux more effective, it darkened or shed blue lights to where the tableaux were going on while spotlighting the narrator. The tableaux were not the only time that the purples and blues were used, at scenes were Mrs. Lyons is going mad all the lighting reflects her melancholy, while scenes such as when Linda was flirting with Mickey or when they played in their childhood they used warm colours to reflect the weather.
The sets portrayed the lives of two very different classes in Liverpool, the stage right was the poor area where the Johnston’s live and the stage left was the rich area where the Lyons’s lived. This was all shown in the minor differences in the houses. Where one side had a lot of doors closely packed next to each other, the other showed houses with doors quite separate from each other and with pillars either side of the door. There were even differences in the flooring. The stage left floor had wooden flooring while the stage right had brick floors.
On the first set there was a brick wall with graffiti on it in between the two sides and behind that you can just make out a backdrop representing the city at night this backdrop would have stars on it, made by fairy lights. On the second set, however, the wall was wheeled off onto either side, leaving a backdrop and tree cutouts either side of the stage representing the countryside then in the scenes where they went to town, the town backdrop was used again. Near the end of the story, a bridge for the characters to walk over was flown in it was probably the Runcorn Bridge.
When the set was Mrs. Lyons’s living room, Mrs. Johnston’s kitchen or Mickey’s living room, Scenery was flown-in, also with minimal portrayal, letting the audience’s imagination develop. In front of the fly-ins were placed furniture, often brought in by the characters or the narrator. There was even a wonderful part at the beginning of the play where the Narrator pulled on a washing line. I thought that this way of setting the scenes and bringing on props, however non-naturalistic, was not only quick and efficient but also very effective.