Coach loads of students told their own story when I arrived at the Playhouse for the first showing of Blood Brothers, and brought back memories of my own college days.
I first encountered the power and the passion of Willy Russell’s scriptwriting skills way back in 1975, when I was dragged out of the college bar in Bromley to see the now legendary “John, Paul, George, Ringo…and Bert” in the West End.
I was stunned then, and have remained so throughout his career, so having seen all the hype surrounding this production, I was just a little concerned that it might prove to be a let down … wrong, as usual, I’m delighted to report!
Lyn Paul (of New Seekers fame) is the mesmerising Mrs Johnstone, effortlessly invoking your sympathy for the unrelentingly drudgery of her life through both her stage presence and her faultless vocals, from flighty young girl to earth mother through to the utter desolation of a woman losing two sons long before their time.
Sean Jones and Mark Hutchinson were a tour-de-force as the twins separated soon after birth, becoming “blood brothers” when they met as 7 years olds – or “nearly 8!” as the irrepressible Mickey constantly proclaimed – and their ability to convince the audience that two grown men could transform from snotty kids to overburdened adults in front of our very eyes was astonishing.
Notable for her ability to make you both laugh with and weep for her was the lovely Linda, played by Danielle Corlass, who was the focus of the eternal triangle of love and loss, and had me crying long before the real tearjerker performance of “Tell Me it’s not True”, which closes the show with such power and pathos, and brought virtually the entire audience to its feet with rapturous applause.
In these post “ I, Daniel Blake” days, this musical production is a stark reminder of the huge social divide between the have and have nots in every town and city, but it also shines a light on the courage and fortitude with which people face the myriad traumas and often impossible choices in their lives.
It’s about family, it’s about lost love and desperation, it’s about the ability of women to battle through whatever the hell life throws at them, and it has some cracking songs. I defy anyone not to love it!!
See what else is on at Playhouse, Weston here