Blood Brothers Review – Leeds Grand Theatre

Set in a deprived area of Liverpool, Blood Brothers follows the ill-fated tale of twins, Eddie & Mickey, who having been seperated at birth grow up, grow together and ultimately grow apart without ever knowing the secret that entwines their lives.

Struggling to the pay the rent, Mrs Johnstone (played by 2007 X-Factor semi-finalist Niki Evans) makes the difficult decision to give one of her new born twins to her employer, the wealthy Mrs. Lyons who sadly can’t have children of her own. The twins’ lives are prophesied to doom from their separation through Mrs.Lyons’ insistence of swearing an oath on the Bible and convincing Mrs. Johnstone into never revealing their act lest the twins will die if they ever learn the truth.

Niki Evans Blood Brothers
Exposing the British class system, the twins grow up on opposite ends of the social spectrum and their lives unfold in very different ways, Mickey worked in a factory until being made redundant and subsequently falls into a life of crime whilst his twin receives an Oxbridge education and becomes a councillor for the city. The object of both their affections, Linda, ends up marrying and having a child with Mickey in Eddie’s absence only to fall back into his arms when Mickey’s life is blighted by depression setting into motion the events which will ultimately lead to their downfall.

The music ranges from exuberant to haunting, particularly with the Marilyn Monroe lyric which is reprised in a variety of contexts each with a powerful impact, ranging from the glamour her name invokes in lyrics such as:

He told me I was sexier than Marilyn Monroe
And we went dancing
We went dancing

when Mrs. Johnstone first meets her husband to be, to the tragedy she emphasises in:

it seems like jails sent him off the rails
just like Marilyn Monroe
his mind’s gone dancing
can’t stop dancing

concerning Mickey’s depression.

It’s a real credit to Niki Evans to be able to emotionally polarise songs with quite similar lyrics to the extent which she does, from heart-warmingly portraying young love to heart-breakingly portraying a mother’s devastation over her son.

Sean Jones plays Mickey from the age of ‘nearly eight’, into his teens and right through to his adulthood. Whilst Jones made a valiant effort it has to be said he was much, much more suited to playing the older, sadder Mickey, his portrayal of a young child felt far too over the top and at times and came across as more of a parody of a young child rather than a realistic representation which perhaps isn’t quite suited to such a tragic musical.

blood brothers
Some of the humour was arguably a bit off the mark with a lot of focus being put on the class differences between the two twins but this disparity was more often than not simply represented via Eddie’s ‘sissy-boy’ femininity which aside from simply being an untrue stereotype, also seemed just a little too easy. However, all in all Blood Brothers certainly causes a few belly-laughs and will have you sniggering throughout, pleasingly contrasting the underlying sadness of the plot.

Blood Brothers deserved the standing ovation it deserved with the minor problems highlighted above being completely outweighed by the sheer emotional punch it packs. Witha relatively short run at the Leeds Grand Theatre (18th-23rd July) book now to avoid disappointment on 0844 848 2706.

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *