On we went to see ‘Blood Brothers’ at Bristol Hippodrome. ‘Blood Brothers was written by Willy Russel, it has now been around for 15years, and based on the production we saw, I can see no reason why it won’t last another 15years. This production could be described as an emotional rollercoaster, the extremely convincing actors, the well written, thought provoking and very refined script are the main reasons for this. This script is as refined as it could possibly be, as after 15years not a word is spoken that is not needed, and there is no movement, accent or piece of scenery that looks or sounds out of place.
The story line of this play is very simple, A very poor woman living in a council estate in Liverpool is expecting twins. She already has too many children than she could afford, so she reluctantly agreed to give one twin up to her employer, Mrs Lyons, who lives in a nearby mansion. The two boys, Eddie and Micky are brought up separately, with very different upbringings. The boys meet again at the age of 7, they discover they were born on the same day and decide to become blood brothers. They remain strong friends, however, until their different classes effect their relationship very strongly in adulthood. This may be a very entertaining story, but the play is not just a story. Willy Russel is trying to symbolise and take a stab at the British class system and the tragic prejudice that comes with it, he does this in a very moving and thought provoking way.
This play very cleverly starts in basically the same way as it ends, the two men lie dead on the stage, with various people standing around them, and there is dim light, the bodies are put into bags and slowly carried away. The Narrator tells in song a very basic story, he tells of them not knowing that they shared one name, until the day they died. Whilst this is happening we are separated from the actors on stage by a huge screen, which you can see through, but is evident it is there. By showing this at the beginning the audience is wondering throughout the play, how the twins could have died on the same day, It gives the play a lot of suspense.
The acting particularly impressed me in this production, both twins, greatly excelled in their roles, these were particularly challenging as they had to ‘grow up’ on stage. This shows tremendous ability of the actors. Both men were such convincing seven-year-olds, that the audience look upon on them believing they are children. Even at the age of seven it is very evident they are from very different classes.
Micky, having lived in a council estate in Liverpool for his first seven years, is very much more ‘worldly wise’ than his twin, Eddie or at least think he is. The body language he uses shows this clearly, as he seems to always be trying to make himself look bigger. As though there is always a risk of him being beaten up, or threatened for sweets by a ‘big boy.’ This appearance and body language is a result of the council estate where he was brought up, and the other children he has mixed with.
Eddie’s character is the complete antithesis to Micky’s I feel one of the main reasons why this play has been so successful is the audience enjoy watching how the characters relate to eachother, as their very contrasting characters fuse. At the age of seven Eddie has been completely smothered by his parents and is exactly how his parents would want him to be. He enters in his grey school uniform, with shorts and long socks, this immediately gives the audience some information about this character, and makes it obvious who he is, as this is the first time the audience see Eddie since he was a baby. Eddie is extremely well spoken, and first introduces himself to Micky as ‘Edward Lyons’. Eddies body language is very much more controlled than Micky’s, it seems as though Eddie is very much more conscious of his actions. He may act like this to show that he has not been brought up around people of his own age, and he doesn’t really know how to relate to anybody but his parents.
To me, one of the most memorable moments in this play; upon the boys first meeting, to show the audience that Eddie is very much trying to win favour with Micky, Eddie tries to copy what Micky does, as a 7year old would. At this stage of the play Micky is wearing an evidently old, and well worn in, huge sleeveless green jumper, shorts and trainers. Micky sits down on the floor and Eddie hurriedly follows, in a much more controlled fashion than his. Without talking Micky lifts his jumper over his knees, which are squashed against his chest, then drops his legs and sits cross legged with his jumper very much stretched, with quite a proud expression on his face.
Eddie, looking at him in wonder, lifts his very tight grey school woolly vest and attempts to put it over his knees. When it doesn’t fit over his knees, he looks quite embarrassed as Micky looks round at him. I think this is a really nice touch, the play has a few little things like that, that make the audience laugh. I particularly like this touch because no words are spoken, it is purely a very childish act, that has been added into the play over the years, as it is not written in the script, it gives the words time to breathe and fills the silence very well.
When they are still seven years old, Micky’s council house gets changed and the Johnstones move to the countryside. The Lyons also move out to the country but the two families are unaware of how close they are still living to each other. The whole atmosphere is then changed, The house in which Micky’s family lives, on one side of the stage remains the same, It just has a new layer of bricks, which are new with no graffiti, looking a lot cleaner. The Lyons house on the opposite side of the stage looks pretty much the same house. There is style at the back of the stage, and the backdrop is sheep and fields rather than a dirty brick wall.