Willy Russell really did create a masterpiece with Blood Brothers. And yet again in 2023 it is proving euphoric on stage. It was certainly that in Derry last night.
I’ve seen this show before a number of times. It’s like returning to something truly special. I felt truly special as I left the auditorium of the Millennium Forum with my mother and her friend last night. It just blows your mind, and all three of us were totally blown away with this production.
Some say this is a story of class. I feel it’s a story about so much more than just class: it’s about the inability to conceive; the inability to support; friendship; love; giving up your baby; depression, and so much more. It captures the world in which it is set, but it is still so very relevant today. It’s timeless.
Twins separated at birth, reunite unknown to each other, and become best friends, blood brothers. Both mothers struggle but both show dedicated and unconditional love to their boy. What appears to be worlds apart are in fact worlds so close together, it’s haunting.
Rebecca Storm really is the ultimate Mrs Johnstone. This might well be her last tour as she told me last week, so I really did feel that I was saying goodbye to a little piece of the show last night too. She is caring, compassionate, funny and filled with so much love. She is simply outstanding.
Paula Tappenden also wins our heart with her portrayal of Mrs Lyons. Trying to imagine what it really must be like to want a child so desperately and seeing the lengths someone will go to, and then how it haunts them forever. Sean Jones, aka Mickey, has us laughing out loud, and weeping silent tears throughout. And Joe Sleight has us falling down laughing with his attempts at swearing and innuendo. He’s just too funny trying to be like Mickey and yet he is just like Mickey. Even Linda finds it hard to decipher the difference. Olivia Sloyan is superb in her role of Linda. I loved her.
I loved the whole cast last night but I adored the narrator, Richard Munday. His role, his performance, his very presence had a real impact on me throughout the show. He’s the conscience to the story. Reminding us always of the consequences to our actions in life.
It’s a show filled with emotion. A show teaching us so much. A show filled with the most memorable songs and music. A show that never leaves you. With the shocking end to a tragic tale, there’s just something so beautiful about the story of Blood Brothers. A reminder to us all to be non-judgmental, to be true to ourselves, to live life to the fullest and to help those less fortunate, not look down on them.
It’s a timeless tale of loss, tragedy, but it’s a tale of ultimate sacrifice and love. And it’s beautiful in every way. But bring a tissue. You will want someone to tell you, ‘It’s not true.’
Blood Brothers runs at Derry’s Millennium theatre until this coming Saturday night. It’s a must see.