Newest Review: ... other as two new pins Of one womb born, on the self same day How one was kept and one given away?" Blood Brothers is a very power... more
Member Name: tartlette
Advantages: Funny, sad, good music
Disadvantages: None (cost perhaps)
Blood Brothers is one of my favourite musicals. I first saw it three years ago and I've seen it twice since then and listen to the CD constantly. If you only like happy endings, then this probably isn't for you, but it will make you think, laugh and cry. Wonderful!
LOCATION AND COST:
Blood Brothers' home is the Phoenix Theatre in London (although there is currently also a touring production - I saw it in Cardiff last night). The theatre is on Charing Cross Road, with the nearest tube stations being Tottenham Court Road(Northern and Central Lines) or Leicester Sqaure (Northern and Piccadilly Lines). There are also a number of buses which service Charing Cross Road from Oxford St and from Trafalgar Square.
The cost of tickets is not cheap. They range from £45 - £17.50, although there are special deals available at times. It is cheaper to see it on tour, last night the top price tickets were £27.50. Although the top price tickets are nice to have, I think that you get just as much of the atmosphere wherever you sit (although you may need to bring your binoculars to get a close look!). There is wheelchair access and they give very detailed information about this on the theatre's website. I've never found any problems with being able to see the stage or hear the music and words in the Phoenix.
If you don't want to know what happens then don't read this part. In the production you see what happens at the end at the beginning, so you know what's coming. I'll tell you what happens, but not in too much detail, as not to spoil it.
The musical opens with two stretchers laid out on the floor with bodies on. As they are carried off a few bars of the haunting 'Tell Me its Not True' are sung. The narrator then speaks to the audience
'So, did you 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.
And did never you hear how the Johnstone's died,
never knowing they shared one name, until the day they died,
when a mother cried my own dear sons lie slain.
And did never you hear of the mother, so cruel there's a stone in place of her heart,
then bring her on, and come, judge for yourselves, how she came to play her part'
Mrs Johnstone is the main character. You learn that she married young, and by the time her husband leaves her she already has seven children and is pregnant again. She works as a cleaner for a rich lady, Mrs Lyons. When Mrs Johnstone learns that she is pregnant with twins she is distraught, knowing that she can only earn enough to cope with one. When Mrs Lyons hears this she begs Mrs Johnstone to give one of the twins to her, as her and her husband cannot have children. This is agreed on the condition that Mrs Johnstone will still be able to see the baby when she is at work.
However, it soon becomes clear that Mrs Lyons is afraid of being found out and wants the twin that she has chosen all to herself. She fires Mrs Johnstone and tells her that the twins must never learn that they are brothers, because people say that if twins who are separated learn this, they will both die straight away.
Seven years pass and we meet Micky, the twin Mrs Johnstone has kept. He then meets Edward Lyons or Eddy as Micky calls him. They become firm friends, and find out that they were born on the same day. Micky invites Eddy to become his 'blood brother' which Eddy agrees to readily. Although both are told by their mothers to keep away from each other, the friends stick together. Mrs Lyons realises this, and persuades her husband to move away. Soon after, and without knowing that the Lyons' were already there, the Johnstone's are re-housed in the country.
The boys meet again when they 14. They both fall in love with the same girl, Linda. Eddy almost tells her that he loves her but doesn't want to hurt Micky and so helps them get together. By the time Eddy returns from his first term at University, Linda and Micky are married and expecting a baby. Micky no longer wants to be friends with Eddy, who he thinks hasn't grown up.
Micky is now unemployed and when a robbery his brother organised goes wrong he ends up in jail. He becomes very depressed and even when he gets out he continues to take anti-depressants.
This is the spoiler - if you don't want to know what happens - read on to the end. Linda tires of Micky taking the tablets and runs to Eddy. When Micky finds out he takes a gun and follows Eddy. Mrs Johnstone finds them and tells them that they are brothers, Micky can't believe that he could have had the privileged upbringing that Eddy had. I won't tell you how they die, but you realise at the beginning of the musical that this is how it ends.
I love the music for Blood Brothers. Many of the songs use the same music with different lyrics, eg 'My Friend' and 'That Guy'. My favourite songs are 'Shoes Upon the Table' which is sung by the narrator and 'Tell Me its not True' sung by Mrs Johnstone. Some of the songs are very upbeat, especially 'Kids Game' and some are very haunting and sad, like 'Tell Me its not True'.
The musical lasts for around 3 hours including the interval. The cast is always excellent (although I found the narrator in the touring production difficult to understand). The only relatively famous person I've seen in it is Linda Nolan, who played Mrs Johnstone the first time I went to see it. She was supposed to play her in the touring production but she is unwell at the moment unfortunately.
The musical is very emotional. The first act is very funny. Pieces like Micky's monologue where he tells the audience how unfair life is because everyone says he's only 7, 'but I'm not, I'm nearly eight'. However, don't be fooled by the light-hearted nature of most of the first act. The second act is much darker and most people will leave with tears in their eyes. I cry every time I see it and the CD leaves me close to tears as well. I have seen many musicals, many are very light-hearted, this is different. It will really make you think. It has a moral, unlike many musicals which just tell a story.
I love this musical, I thoroughly recommend seeing it. Anyone going to London to see a show should seriously consider seeing this. If it comes near you on a touring production -even better as the tickets are a lot cheaper!
Summary: Go and see this!!
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