BLOOD BROTHERS | London, New Wimbledon Theatre

A modern classic, and curriculum staple, Blood Brothers (1983) follows twins Mickey (Sean Jones) and Eddie (Joel Benedict), separated at birth, who grow up on opposite sides of 1960s Liverpool’s wealth divide.

It doesn’t take a particularly astute GCSE student to pin down the central theme of Blood Brothers. It is a musical about class, and the fundamental unfairness of the birth lottery. Luckily for any particularly unastute GCSE students, this is actually announced by the narrator (the sinister yet deeply charismatic Robbie Scotcher) mere moments after the death of the two protagonists.

For all its heavy-handedness, though, the musical is genuinely moving. Niki Evans as Mrs Johnstone, the twins’ birth mother, sings with an emotive power and range which matches that of her remarkable voice. And although it is initially jarring to see children played by adults – some positively middle-aged – their evolving body language as the characters grow up creates an astounding transformation.

The musical is a tragedy in the classical sense, complete with inescapable prophecy and doomsaying chorus. Even at its most joyful, the production carries a sense of creeping foreboding which is only exacerbated by the childhood innocence of the first act. Yet somehow, when the inevitable eventually comes to pass, it still leaves the audience audibly gasping.

Blood Brothers may not be subtle, but it will make a point, make you cry, and give you a tune to whistle on your way out. And really, what more could you ask of a musical than that?

Evie Prichard

Playing Tue 8 Feb – Sat 12 Feb 2022 at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

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