REVIEW// Did you ever hear the story of the Johnstone twins?

Blood Brothers at the Millennium Forum from Tuesday 4th to Saturday 8th October

A story of love, loss, life struggle and laughter, Willy Russell’s award winning play returned to the city last night with yet another faultless production.

Thirty three years old yet the Blood Brothers story is as relevant today as it was in 1983. Set in 1960’s Liverpool, the narrative follows the life journey of the Johnstone twins who were separated at birth due to the financial struggles of their mum, Mrs Johnstone played by Lyn Paul.

Husbandless and with seven kids, Mrs Johnstone is already struggling when she finds herself pregnant with twins.  

Through an outpouring of emotion to her boss Mrs Lyons, played by Sarah Jane Buckley, she shares her problems. Mrs Lyons has an answer which she feels could help both parties. You see, Mrs Lyon’s cannot have children so offers to take one of the unborn children and raise it as her own and Mrs Johnstone reluctantly agrees.  

Struggles, both financial and emotional, are a common theme throughout the play as Mrs Johnstone makes the heart breaking decision to give one child away. Then, she has to keep the decision secret as she watches her child grow up while calling someone else his mum.

The audience were captivated from the start and the chemistry between the cast was evident and contagious as the audience were immediately immersed in the story from the outset.

Under the surface the issue of social classes brew and how influential such classes are to opportunities and life progression. Although both mothers try their best to keep both children apart, their paths naturally cross throughout the boys lives and then eventually again when tragedy strikes.

Sean Jones and Joel Benedict’s portrayal of the two twins Mickey and Eddie were superb. They were totally believable as children, their expressions, voices, interaction with each other, just perfect.

Lyn Paul, the ‘definitive Mrs Johnstone’ as she was once voted, has regularly undertaken the role over the past twenty years since first making her musical debut in 1997 which incidentally was in the same play in London’s West End. Her voice was incredible throughout the performance as she portrays the emotions and struggles of a tormented mother.                            

The audience could not help but feel sorry for the woman, and the emotion was infectious with tissues being used to dry many eyes in the crowd.

There is a simple reason why Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers is still performed in front of packed audiences 33 years after its West End debut, and will continue to do so for many decades to come, because it is a classic.

Performed with the utmost professionalism, a fantastic cast, incredible score, beautiful set, need I go on?... Bill Kenwright’s production of Blood Brothers is not so much a must see, but a must, must, must see.

Blood Brothers will run at the Millennium Forum until Saturday 8th October with tickets from £10. Tickets here

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