REVIEW: BLOOD BROTHERS (Churchill Theatre Bromley)

I remember seeing Blood Brothers when it originally played in the West End more than 15 years ago at The Phoenix Theatre. I recall being mesmerised by the entire story and how two brothers could have be come separated at birth, to have their lives cut so tragically short in a bitter twist of events. Being a 13 year old child at the time I found it very emotional and this production at The Churchill Theatre was no different.

Willy Russell’s iconic Blood Brothers returns with this touring production and deserves every ounce of success it is still having, many years later. The story is set against the backdrop of a 1960’s Liverpool and centres around mothers and their children, brothers and lovers.

The show starts with Mrs Johnstone, played by Lyn Paul, singing the iconic ‘Tell Me It’s Not True” with the two lifeless bodies of her sons on stretchers in front of her feet. Incredibly moving and captivating from the first note.

Blood Brothers tells the story of twin boys Mickey and Eddie Johnstone who are separated at birth. When Mrs Johnstone is deserted by her husband and forced to raise her children by herself, she has many hungry mouths to feed and seeks employment to make ends meet. She soon finds herself pregnant again, this time with twins.

She secretly agrees with her employer, Mrs Lyons, played by Paula Tappenden, for her to take one of the babies once they are born, only for this to lead to a set of disastrous consequences for everybody.

Sean Jones who plays Mickey, creates a childish, cheeky and likeable persona, as well as Joel Benedict who plays Eddie, a well groomed and educated young school boy. Fate appears to have brought Mickey and Eddie together and they form a strong bond and friendship with each other and become ‘Blood Brothers’.

The actors transform from young children, to grown adults and they play these parts well and are convincing throughout the whole transition.

Lyn Paul gives an exceptional performance singing songs including ‘Marilyn Monroe’, and ‘Easy Terms’ and ends the show with her heart wrenching and touching performance of “Tell Me It’s Not True”. A definite tear jerker.

By the end of the show there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, showing how many years later, Blood Brothers still moves people of all ages, whether they have seen this before or not being moved by such a heartbreaking story of a mothers love for her children.

Reviewed by Sam Harler

Blood Brothers is currently playing at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley until Saturday 27th February and continues it UK tour