Shakespeare’s birthday is surely the perfect night to go to the theatre – and when it’s to see a piece by one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights it certainly adds something to the celebration!
It might come as a bit of a shock to realise Blood Brothers is actually 36 years old. It began as a school play – and it was brilliant to see so many young people in the audience on the opening night of its Blackpool run.
This is a musical that people love to see again and again, but for the uninitiated it focuses on Mrs Johnstone, a down to earth and down on her luck Liverpudlian who makes the mistake of her life when she hands one of her twin sons over to well-to-do Mrs Lyons. It’s a pact with the devil and can only end in tears. But as much as the two women try to keep their sons apart, Mickey Johnstone and Edward Lyons meet and become best pals, even make a pact and become the blood brothers of the title.
Nature versus nurture and the good ol’ British class system come under the microscope in a piece that has certainly stood the test of time, and a talented cast had the audience in their thrall.
Standouts were Alexander Patmore as Mickey and Joel Benedict as Eddie. The roles were demanding, seeing them grow from eight-year-old boys to men with responsibilities but they were both right on the money from beginning to end. As a Scouser myself, I loved the authenticity of Patmore’s accent and also the backdrop showing the Liver Buildings lit up at night.
Accomplished West End star Linzi Hateley took on the role of Mrs Johnstone, following in the footsteps of the likes of Kiki Dee, Barbara Dickson, Petula Clark and Stephanie Lawrence. She has a strong voice and clear delivery but lacked the rough edges I’d expect from the character, and I thought the tear-jerking finale performance of Tell Me It’s Not True lost its poignancy though overuse of vocal effects – a disappointment.
Robbie Scotcher’s Narrator was menacing and occasionally overloud (at one point the lady in front of me was covering her ears!), though his accent did tend to wander a little, while Danielle Corlass turned in a feisty, fun and faultless performance as Linda.
I came away having enjoyed a good evening at the theatre – the Bard would be pleased. However, for me this production never really caught alight, which was a pity.
Blood Brothers is at the Opera House, Blackpool until Saturday, 27th April. For tickets and more information visit https://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/whats-on/blood-brothers
Reviewer: Sandra Mangan
Reviewed: 23rd April 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★
Picture: Previous cast