“So, did you ever hear the story of the Johnstone twins? As like each other as two new pins, of one womb born on the self-same day, how one was kept and one given away…”
A complex question that is thrown back and forth in the world of theatre is ‘What makes a good show? The answer, though it may seem somewhat ambiguous, usually consists of an original story line, outstanding actors and actresses and a strongly composed set of music and lyrics to parallel the story. Willy Russel’s universally emotional musical, Blood Brothers features all of these elements and more, which was evidenced by the audience’s roaring standing ovation upon the devastating climax. With outstanding characterisation and authentic Liverpudlian accents, directors Bob Tomson and Bob Kenwright exceeded in their rendition of fusing the depressive 1960’s backdrop of social injustice with light hearted comedy in a captivating and awe-inspiring way.
The story follows the separation of twins, Eddie and Mickey, fantastically played by Joel Benedict and Sean Jones. The contrast between their lives and the social, moral injustices of the 1960’s are echoed through the growth of characters.
Sean Jones’ bitterness and depiction of the world towards the finale must be commended due to the outstanding degree of authenticity both vocally and physically.
The whole performance however, was strung along by leading lady, Maureen Nolan playing the role of the optimistic and somewhat naive Mrs Johnstone. Maureen Nolan is no stranger to Willy Russel’s classic though, as she has performed the role several times in the Phoenix Theatre, London as well as several UK tours. Undeniably, the most heart wrenching moment of the show was the highly emotional song ‘Tell Me it’s not true’. Her outstanding acting ability shone through as the audience genuinely believed every word she sang which was clearly shown (and heard) by the tears of fellow audience members.
Excellent contributions too from Marti Pellow, playing the stern, omnipotent narrator respectfully as well as the obsessive, superstitious Mrs Lyons, performed fantastically by Paula Tappenden.
Credit must also be given to the original set design team and the enjoyable musical accompaniment.
Blood Brothers runs till October 10th at Cardiff’s New Theatre.