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Reviewed: Blood Brothers at Curve

A musical that’s loved by people who hate musicals.

It took three bows before the cast were able to break free from their characters on the opening night of Blood Brothers at Curve.

The most immediate standing ovation I’ve ever witnessed and took part in, directors Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright have delivered another award-worthy cast of Willy Russell’s captivating class-exploring tale.

“A musical that’s loved by people who hate musicals,” says Willy Russell, it follows twins Mickey (Sean Jones) and Eddie (Joe Sleight) who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks only to meet again with fateful consequences.

Impressively delivered sound effects extended the stage action and filled the auditorium while damp-walled set design of lower-class Liverpudlian streets invited the audience into the lives of those who live there.

This cast is thoroughly convincing as carefree kids in act one. Fascinating to watch, Jones’ every word and every move made it easy to forget a seven-year old Mickey was played by a grown man. His performance was altogether comical, heart-warming and heart-breaking.

Gemma Brodrick as one point of the story’s love triangle Linda, is utterly engaging as an innocent child and cheeky teen, all the way through to exuberant young adult and wife eventually damaged by depression and death.

Blood Brothers showcases Jones, Brodrick and Sleight’s impressive range as actors, directed expertly through the particular evolution of their characters’ speech and movement.

Playful ensemble number ‘Kids Games’ is a particular highlight, foreshadowing what’s to come as the children play at being gangsters, shooting each other down with spud guns.

‘Shoes Upon the Table’ performed ominously by narrator Scott Anson sets an unnerving tone that’s circled back to throughout the lives of Mickey and Eddie’s mothers Mrs Johnstone (Niki Colwell Evans) and Mrs Lyons (Sarah Jane Buckley). It’s also when simplistic, satisfying on-beat movement is introduced signifying that these two unconditionally loving mothers live every moment by the reminder and threat of their criminal secret.

Act two darkens the auditorium with consequences of the social class system. Work is hard to find and results in crime, depression and addiction for Mickey leading to an unsettling domestic between a broken Mickey and desperate Linda that’s so intimate it’s as though the audience is sat uncomfortably in their living room fighting the urge to look away.

Depriving the audience of the opportunity to applaud at any moment, combined with use of silence allow for the full appreciation of acting at its finest.

The outcome is a raw, vulnerable set of bows and a standing ovation that didn’t think twice.

See Blood Brothers at Curve from April 23-27.

It continues its tour to Birmingham from April 30 – May 4 and then around the country until December 7.


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