“Blood Brothers” was written by Willy Russell, Willy was born in Whiston on the outskirts of Liverpool in 1947. The play Blood Brothers was first performed in a secondary school in Fazakerly, a suburb of Liverpool in 1982. On the first night it was performed in front of four hundred pupils, there were minimal props, scenery and music, but over the years it has been developed onto Broadway in 1993. It ahs been translated into at least ten different languages and is performed regularly all over the world.
The play is set throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with the main themes brought out at the end, which is set in the 80’s. Russell’s intentions in the play were to show the division of class between the Lyons and the Johnstone family by the use of language, music and the way the actors and actresses portray themselves on stage. The play was written during the recession in the 80’s, the times are very clearly reflected in the play and so is the outcry against “Thatcherism,” because the Prime Minister at the time Margaret Thatcher caused poverty for the working classes by closing the factories, coal mines and steel works. Writers such as Osborn and Delaney, who wrote Novels like “Look Back in Anger” and “A Taste of Honey.” These two writers had similar writing techniques to Willy, they always used themes of poverty in the North. Willy also wrote plays such as “Our Day Out,” “Educating Rita,” and one of his most well know plays that was turned into a T.V series “Shirley Valentine.”
“Blood Brothers” is about two very different families, the Johnstone’s and the Lyons. The two families have only one thing in common. Mrs Johnstone is poor with too many children that she can handle; she then finds out she is expecting twins. Mrs Lyons has lots of money but no children and she really wants a child, Mrs Johnston cleans in Mrs Lyons house and when she tells Mrs Lyons she is pregnant. She asks to keep one of her babies, after a lot of persuading Mrs Johnstone gives in and the two brothers Mickey and Eddie grow up and become friends in ignorance of their fraternity. As they get older they drift apart as the class and money issue becomes more apparent between the two. Until one day the inevitable quarrel unleashes a blood bath. They play both starts and ends with the death of the two brothers who only find out the truth on the day of the joint death.
The scene I am going to study is the last scene in the play where Mickey and Eddie die. In this scene the main characters Mickey, Eddie, Mrs Johnstone, Linda and two policemen. The themes in this scene are class, love, family, rivalry, violence and superstition. The most dominant theme is class, this becomes apparent because Mickey gets frustrated and jealous of the lifestyle of his rich friend, who then Mickey finds out is his twin which fuels anger inside him because he could have had the lifestyle Eddie had.
This influences Mickey to pull the trigger on Eddie at the end. Mickey’s last line of the play is “I could have been him!” Violence is another theme, which starts quite early in the play when the twins are little and they used to play in the street, they would sing things like “I got y’, I shot y’ an’ y’ bloody know I did.” Even when they were young they used bad language influencing violence, it was always Mickey who was the “ring leader” of the two and Eddie just wanted to be like Mickey, but as the grow older and mature it becomes the other way around. Superstition is another strong theme and at the end of the play the Narrator gives us a choice: do we blame superstition or class? Throughout the play he constantly draws our attention to superstition, there are lots of times in the play when rhymes and riddles are used to portray this, one of them being:
There’s shoes upon the table an’ a joker in the pack, The salt’s been spilled and a looking glass cracked, There’s one lone magpie overhead. Just before we see Eddie the Narrator portrays the future with a rhyme saying, “There’s a mad man running round and round You know the devils got your number You know he’s right beside you He’s screamin’ deep inside you And someone said he’s callin’ your number up today Today Today TODAY!” The Narrator draws our attention to the future a lot during the play to make us think about what will happen later on as the play continues.