Review: Blood Brothers at the Grand Opera House, Belfast
The internationally acclaimed and multi-award-winning Blood Brothers has returned to the Grand Opera House for a 2 week run.
Willy Russell’s legendary musical tells the moving tale of twins separated at birth. Their mum Mrs Johnstone is a single parent with more children than she can afford, so when she discovers that she’s having twins, she’s almost put under pressure by her employer to give one to her. The twins are separated initially but the world continually finds a way to bring them together and connect as ‘Blood Brothers’.
Blood Brothers is a GCSE English literature text exploring social class, fate and superstition, childhood and growing up, friendship, identity and nature vs nurture, and gender. It’s easy to see how the young audience could benefit from watching Blood Brothers live on stage. It’s a master class in all of those areas.
Personally I was struck by the attitude towards Mickey’s depression during and after his years in prison and the cold turkey off his medication. How times and attitudes have changed and hopefully treatment of depression has improved in our world in 2022.
The superb score could be a topic in itself for GCSE, and the use of Marilyn Monroe throughout Blood Brothers starts off frivolous and sexy and finishes with medication, depression and early death.
A standing ovation at the end is inevitable and you can clearly see the emotion in the cast as they are just drained after having given their absolutely everything. Niki Evans (Mrs Johnstone) in particular struggled to smile, which is understandable given how emotional those final scenes are.
This is iconic musical theatre. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen Blood Brothers but it always blows me away, I’ll always feel emotional and I’ll always jump out of my seat.