Blood Brothers (UK Tour)
Reviewed on Monday 25th January 2016
The West End hasn't been the same since Blood Brothers closed in 2012, thankfully the show lives on with its long-running UK tour. Lyn Paul, who first starred in the show in 1997 and reprised her performance many times, has returned to Blood Brothers once again to lead the cast as Mrs Johnstone.
Blood Brothers sees struggling single mother Mrs Johnstone give up one of her babies to a much wealthier, slightly deluded woman after giving birth to twins who she simply cannot afford. The twins grow up leading very different lives until a chance meeting reunites the pair... at the heart of Blood Brothers is a dark tale of superstition.
I remember studying Willy Russell's musical back when I was studying for my GCSEs and seeing the show as part of a school trip; this tradition certainly lives on as last night the theatre was packed full of young, excitable students.
Initially when the show began many younger audience members seemed restless, but twenty minutes in – as soon as Micky and Eddie bounced onstage – it was clear everyone was enjoying themselves immensely. As the intensity grew when the show progressed into the second act, all around me were captivated before jumping to their feet at the end of the night. That is what makes Blood Brothers such an extraordinary show. Everybody needs to see it at least once in their lifetime.
After seeing Blood Brothers, people often come out the theatre reeling from the emotionally draining finale and forget how funny the show actually is; the entire first act is hysterical - this was probably my sixth or seventh time seeing Blood Brothers yet I still found myself laughing my head off.
It is a treat to see Lyn Paul back as Mrs Johnstone. I've seen her play the role before, but last night she surpassed anything I had previously seen. During the first act Paul's Mrs Johnstone is lovably feisty before she pours her heart and soul out as the show concludes - I don't know how she does it eight times a week. As I exited the theatre, a young girl said to her mother, “She was the most incredible actress I have ever seen onstage”.
Elsewhere Sean Jones' portrayal of Mickey remains remarkably fresh (his opening scenes seem to get funnier and funnier) whilst Paula Tappenden makes the perfect Mrs Lyons. Kristofer Harding is, without doubt, the strongest Narrator I've ever seen; Harding commands the stage with his eerie presence and vocally the score fits his voice like a glove.
Blood Brothers is proof that you don't need a mega budget, high kicking musical numbers and dazzling costumes to give an audience a night to remember. Night after night, year after year, Blood Brothers has taken audiences on an emotional roller coaster ride like no other, and long may it continue.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
Blood Brothers runs at the Richmond Theatre to 30th January 2016. Please visit www.kenwright.com for further information, full tour dates and tickets.