Guns also have a role in building up the tension in the play. It starts of with the children pretending to use guns as children playing ‘cowboys and Indians’ and progressing to the actual weapon, which is eventually the cause of their deaths. This, partnered with the other tension raising techniques, really helps for an extremely climatic finish. I was very impressed with the way I saw the characters played when I went to see ‘Blood Brothers’ performed at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Even though they used the same actors to play the characters over a period of around 30 years I had no trouble seeing a grown man play a young adolescent boy.
For example, when Mickey was being played as a small child the actor did several things to make the audience feel comfortable with him as a toddler. His body language was very flamboyant, energetic and fidgety and his pronunciation of words was very lazy and clumsy. All the rest of his movements, gestures etc. were very exaggerated and defined. As Mickey’s character grew older his body language seemed to calm down and the way he spoke became more controlled and confident. The way the actors continually had to change the behaviour of their character to suit their age must have been very challenging, but it is very effective allowing the audience to feel they know the characters better, that they have seen them ‘grow up’ in the true sense. Seeing their remarkable performances made me now approach each character I come across in my drama in a different way and has really improved my performances.
The Orchestra and music really helped with my understanding of the play and the upbeat, fast pace of ‘Blood Brothers’ is perfect for a composer to work his magic on. The music brought the play to life and really turned up the heat during tense and dramatic moments giving the play real atmosphere and pulling you to the edge of your seat in the audience. A perfect example of this is when excitement is created by the sounds of a heartbeat rising to a crescendo.
Throughout the play the Orchestra was constantly slightly visible on stage and I was curious as to why this was, so I did some research to see if it had any significance to the play. This technique of a visible Orchestra has been used in the Theatre for many years and is there to constantly remind the audience that they are watching a play. I can definitely see why Russell chose to use this technique. ‘Blood Brothers’ touches some rather spooky subjects like fate and superstition and with the play being so easy to relate to as it is local, modern and very cleverly written the audience could get overly wrapped up in the spiritual side of the play.
Russell showing us the end of the play as an opening sequence is an ingenious idea. It leaves so many questions open in your mind before the play has even begun; this way the tension is automatically very high when the play starts. The audience is instantly hooked when they learn the two main characters die before they have even been introduced to them leaves the audience anticipating throughout the whole play. They want to know how it was that twin brothers died on the same day at the same time? What circumstances befell them and brought them to this? How is the mother to blame? …And the list goes on.
‘Blood Brothers’ is a fantastically well written play; Willy Russell really knows how to sustain an audience’s attention and keep them captivated. This play really involves the audience with the characters due to the effectiveness of Russell’s writing and the direction of the play and we find it very easy to empathise with the emotions experienced by the characters, which makes us care about what happens to them. Russell and ‘Blood Brothers’ are highly successful at building up dramatic tension and the ending is both shocking and thought provoking.