Blood Brothers (UK Tour) – Review

Blood Brothers (UK Tour): Churchill Theatre, Bromley

28th February 2023


Blood Brothers has been running in London’s West End and touring for almost 40 years and is showing no signs of slowing down. Having played over 10,000 performances in London’s West End for over 24 years Blood Brothers is a firm favourite with theatre goers. The tragic tale of two twins separated at birth has become the must see show and even now, 40 years after being written, it is still as fresh as ever. Probably Willy Russels’ most well-known musicals Blood Brothers is currently embarking on yet another UK Tour. The almost cult-like show is as popular as ever and it is clear to see why.

From the haunting overture Blood Brothers takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions. Its tragic tale never gets old and even frequent viewers will feel the emotion during this moving production. Sean Jones has been playing Mickey on and off for more than two decades and yet his performance is still just as fresh and engaging as ever. The growth of Mickey’s character throughout the show is amazing and by the end of the second act Jones‘ emotion and fantastic conviction as the character makes it almost hard to watch. Jones knows this character unlike any other actor and is stunning to watch.  Joe Sleight’s straight laced Eddie offsets the young, wayward lad Mickey perfectly. Paula Tappenden, Mrs Johnstone during this performance, gives an amazing performance of ‘Tell Me It’s Not True‘ despite the clearly emotional scene she sings beautifully with true character. One of the most important characters in Blood Brothers is the Narrator who is always lurking, acting as the puppeteer for the show. Richard Munday’s Narrator is a mixture of menacing, strong whilst also being sensitive to the characters. His vocals and commitment to the character is evident from the opening scene. The entire cast are excellent in their storytelling and characterisation, playing multiple characters throughout the show.

Despite Blood Brothers being 40 years old, and having changed very little, the show still manages to feel fresh due to its emotional story. The set, designed by Andy Walmsley, is well constructed and paints the picture of the council estate where the Johnstone’s live and the comparisons between the classes – a fundamental element of the story. The use of a significantly raked stage makes sure that everyone in the audience can see the action. Lighting by Nick Richings works well to heighten the tension, particularly during the dramatic moments, and effectively adds to the story. It is also nice to see a musical which does not rely on projections or digital videos. With a story as moving as this, there doesn’t need to be any modern touches.

It is immediately clear to see why Blood Brothers is adored by so many. The plot which ultimately is about the issue of class divide as well as friendship, family and love is still as relevant now as it was when Willy Russell first wrote the show in 1983. It has songs that will stick in your head;  a score that is haunting and memorable but most importantly it has a story with heart. This 2023 UK Tour continues to tell the story of the Johnstone Twins with passion, true emotion and heart. A must see for any theatre lover!

Blood Brothers is playing at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley until the 4th March. For information and tickets click here.

Photo credit: Jack Merriman

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