Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Blood Brothers by Willy Russell *Review + Semi Analysis*

Blood Brothers is a musical play written by Willy Russell in 1981. It was first preformed in 1982 on stage, and is set somewhere between the 1950s and 1970s. 

It's been a West End hit for years and years,and I'm not ashamed to say I've seen it 4 times, and would go to see it time and time again. The written play translate immaculately to the stage, and throughout the play (on stage or reading) you experience just about every emotion in extremes.

The plot follows a young mother with many children, but more specifically it follows two of her youngest children and the dreaded fate that becomes the two boys. Mickey and Edward come from 'different sides of the track' but once shared a womb. One is surrounded by poverty while the other never wants for a thing. The play, which is constantly overseen by the Narrator, follows the boys from birth and explores their differeing stories. 

I've come to see the Narrator as the conscience of the two mothers. Things said by this particular character can be applied to both mothers, and it seems he constantly reminds the mothers of their wrong doings.  There are moments in the play, particularly the first speech from the Narrator, the reminds me of Romeo and Juliet. The first speech from the Narrator, who is a vital character in the play, is very reminiscent of the prologue from Romeo and Juliet. It basically tells us the story of the ill-fated brothers before the play truly begins.

You can't help but feel for Mrs Johnston, the true mother. Sure, she makes mistakes and wrong decisions but she doesn't have much choice. Throughout the play you can feel her agony and that further fuels my dislike for the Jennifer. 

Mickey is my favourite character. He is the most complex of the bunch, and because of his promient position in the play and almost all scenes you really feel what he is feeling. You experience his extreme happiness and extreme depression.  

Many themes can be seen running through the play, but I think fate or maybe even superstition is the first and most common we see. From practically the first page, the idea of superstition is brought to our attention and it crops up time and time again, and ultimately the superstitions are proven right.  The idea of certain superstitions is first used to scare Mrs Johnston into allowing Jennifer to keep the baby, but it ends up terrifying the latter even more than Mrs J.

If you have seen the play, you will know that the actors play the characters of the Johnston family as Liverpudlians so as I read the book I couldn't help but read the text in a Scouse accent. The dialect in which Russell wrote the Johnston and other poorer family speech helps you determine which accent the character holds.  

If you haven't seen Blood Brothers yet on stage, then I suggest you run as fast as your little legs will carry you and find out if there is a showing around you. I've only touched upon a few things here, and I could go on and on but I think I've rambled enough for now.


  1. argh i still dream of seeing this and reading the book x

  2. Love this show! Have seen it twice. I think the more you watch it/read it the more you pick up on & therefore enjoy it more :) x

  3. Thanks for this. I've seen the musical a couple of times and it's great to hear your thoughts. Fancy analysing Matilda next?!

  4. I've seen this on stage, it was great!