Did you ever hear the story of the Johnston twins? Well, if like me you have been putting it off for years, now is the time to catch up with it at the Regent Theatre, Hanley – reviewer Mel Osbourne (5 Stars)
The classic play by Willy Russell is visiting for a week’s stint. The show was first performed in 1981 and has been popular both on stage and in schools where it is features on the curriculum. The show boasts a stellar cast including Niki Colwell Evans, who was a runner up on X-Factor 2007, as Mrs Johnstone.
When I was first given the book at school, I wasn’t really interested and didn’t read it, however more fool me as I was missing out on a classic. Mrs Johnston is pregnant with her eighth child and her husband has scarpered. But finding out she is having twins is a bigger shock…
Her employee Mrs Lyons has an idea, what if she has one of them? She can give them the life Mrs Johnston can’t. Then the fateful pact is sealed and there is no turning back.
Russell’s plays have traditionally served as social commentaries reflecting his own working-class background. We watch the two boys grow up and the impact money or the lack of it has on their futures. After all they are from the same mother but have different opportunities. Blood brothers is beautifully told and despite being a heart-breaking tale, it is peppered with plenty of humour.
The show is fast paced and the dialogue engaging. A narrator commentates and casts darkness on the proceedings, making it particularly chilling in parts. Mrs Johnston is superstitious and the narrative plays on her fears with references to many old wives tales such as never leaving new shoes on a table and saluting to Magpies.
The musical numbers are catchy and memorable, however, the standout moment is Evans performance of “Tell me it’s not True” which was emotional and heart-breaking and one of the highlights of the show.
Sean Jones is Mickey, and has been playing this part for many years, but his energy doesn’t falter as the street kid who loves playing guns and later embodies an older Mickey who has given up on life. The monologue ‘I wish I was our Sammy’ was spoken with such mischief and humour and engaged the audience in this beautiful play.
Sammy is played by Timothy Lucas who gives a standout performance as Mickey’s older brother and is larger-than-life persona bounds all over the stage and it is hard not to like him despite his actions.
The cast perform superbly as a company and visually it is such an engaging show to watch. The subject matter is tough and yes it will make you cry, but I can now see why thousands of schools encourage young people to read or watch this show. The show ended on a well deserved standing ovation. Don’t be like me and put off seeing this wonderful production, it is most certainly one for the bucket list.
For more information visit https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/blood-brothers/regent-theatre/calendar/2022-09-28