The lively, heart-warming and at times, terrifying Blood Brothers opened in Sunderland this week and I was thrilled to attend.
Having seen Blood Brothers before (when I was a child, but still) I knew what to expect from the story but I don’t think you could ever expect, or prepare yourself, for the performances. The emotion in this show is so raw and genuine that you can’t help but empathize for each and every character.
At the beginning the story we meet two women living in Liverpool separated by class. One working-class single Mother (Mrs Johnstone) who is desperately trying to support her many children with 2 more on the way, and one very wealthy woman (Mrs Lyons) who badly wants a child of her own.
Upon hearing of Mrs Johnstone’s pregnancy and financial difficulties, Mrs Lyons hatches a plan to fake a pregnancy of her own and separate the twins at birth, raising one in a lavish household while the other stays with their biological family. Mrs Johnstone agrees, clinging to the fact that her son will be raised with all he could ever want or need.
Nikki Colwell Evans, who appeared on the 2007 X Factor, was sensational. Not only was she an incredible singer, she really made you care deeply about her character and her family.
She was the comforting, cheeky and tough Mum that so many working-class northerners had growing up, and she gave you a huge insight into the struggle of raising a large family in tough times. The whole audience felt her pain as she reluctantly gave up her child and the guilt she felt when she tried to push him away when he grew up.
As the children grow up in nearby (but very different) neighbourhoods, we are fully introduced to the distinct but equally charming Mickey Johnstone (Sean Jones) and Eddie Lyons (Jay Worley), who take us through their whole lives from 7-year-olds to adulthood.
Eddie’s transition to adulthood through the show was seamless. You could see his character get stuck in the naivety of the world around him and only really grow in age and knowledge from a top-class University.
Whereas Mickey’s transition to adulthood was dramatic and harsh, just like his surroundings. Although he grew with a Mother who loved him so much, the world wasn’t kind to Mickey. He started off as a mischievous trouble-maker with a heart of gold and his environment and circumstance turned him into a severely depressed, angry and hopeless adult.
Jones made you sympathize with Mickey in a way that made you feel like you know him personally. His deterioration throughout the performance was heart-breaking to watch, ultimately succumbing to a tragic and shocking end that made the audience audibly gasp.
Blood Brothers isn’t a musical that’ll have you singing along to the songs or gazing at the extravagant sets. This show is all about the timeless, gripping story, something that has stayed with me for many years and will continue to stay with me after seeing it again.
Here at Sunderland Until 24th September you can also catch it on it’s UK tour at a theatre near you.
*Guest Post, Gifted tickets but opinions are all own
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