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Blood Brothers Analytical

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Blood Brothers’ is the story of twin brothers separated at birth because their mother cannot afford to keep them both. Mrs. Johnstone can only afford to keep Mickey, as she already has 7 children. She is unemployed and part of the lower class. The other twin, Eddie, is given away to wealthy Mrs. Lyons and the twins grow up as friends in ignorance of the fact that they are in fact brothers. The play is being performed in the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester Square, and is one of the longest running musicals in the west end, lasting for a total of 25 years so far.

There are many different themes and hidden messages in the show, which is why it was a good production to use for our GCSE exams. I am therefore going to write a theatre review to discuss the way the play was performed in the west end, in order for me to perform an accurate version myself. There is much controversy about the themes of this play. One of the most obvious ones is superstition. There is always a permanent influence of this throughout the play. For example, the song ‘Shoes upon the table’ is all about superstition.

This is sung a few times throughout the play, making this one of the key themes in the play. Another key theme is fate. Eddie and Mickey meet almost as if they are meant to, and instantly take a liking to one another. When they lose contact, they meet again, proving they are supposed to be as a pair. The lyrics in ‘you know the devil’s got your number’ are also repeated throughout the song, saying that no matter what, fate is going to happen wherever the characters are living or whatever they are doing. Finally, social class is the third key theme in this play.

All the time we are being reminded, either by speech, accents or clothing, of how different these characters are to each other. There is a permanent contrast. Once again, the lyrics to ‘my child’ reflect the difference between social classes, saying that if he lives with Mrs. Johnstone he will be unemployed and have broken toys, but if he lives with Mrs. Lyons he’ll have his own bike and nice clothes to wear. Most of the characters in this play are a main character. There are very few others. These include people like the milkman, the teacher and the repo men.

The main characters are very stereotypical to their class. For example, because Mickey is part of the lower class, we assume that he is dirty and scruffy, but we also stereotype Mr. Lyons as being very neat and clean because he is of the upper middle class. Mickey is the son that Mrs. Johnstone kept. He is quite scruffy and attends a public school. Eddie is the twin that Mrs. Johnstone gave away to Mrs. Lyons. He is very neat and proper, but finds all the naughty things that Mickey does very exciting. They become blood brothers when they meet at 7 years old, and they are the main characters of the play. Mrs. Johnstone is mother to Sammy, Edward, and Mickey.

She is very superstitious and protective over Mickey, as she does not want him to ‘die’ over the superstition Mrs. Lyons invented. Mrs. Lyons acts as Edward’s mother. She starts to become mental with her wanting to be ‘safe’ from Mrs. Johnstone, as she believes that the Johnstone family is following her around. The other main characters are Mr. Lyons, (Mrs. Lyons husband) Linda (Mickey’s wife) and Sammy who is another of Mrs. Johnstone’s children. The only people in this play that didn’t have a Liverpool accent were the Lyons family as they are of the upper class.

They also used very stiff movements and quite deep, formal voices to help show this. They stood very upright and Edward even rode his pretend horse like he was better than everyone else. The Johnstone’s were the complete opposite, always slouching and being rather loud when talking. They were very sloppy in movements and used slang words. This all helped to show the contrast of social classes. Costumes help to characterize the actors and once again show social class. Mickey wears very tatty clothes that are dirty and have holes in them.

We assume they are hand-me-downs from his older brothers and sisters as they are too big for him. When we first see him he is wearing green, which is a bright and bold colour. The first time we see Eddie he is wearing a grey shorts and sweater vest combination. This is a dull colour, which can be interpreted into him being forced to act older than everyone else. He is very neat and tidy and his clothes don’t look worn out. However, we see a sudden switch of colour in the two boys’ clothes. When Eddie comes back from university he is wearing all green. Mickey has just been fired and is wearing grey colours.

This could be to interpret how fast Mickey has been forced into acting older, whilst now Eddie is the one who gets to have all the fun. This sudden switch of colour and is reflected when Mickey says to Eddie ‘but your still a kid. An’ I wish could be as well Eddie… but I cant, because while no-one was looking grew up. An’ you didn’t, because you didn’t need to’. To set the scene on one half of the stage we saw terraced houses. On the opposite side was Mrs. Lyons house. To move from one to the other the characters simply walked along the front of the stage to the other side.

This gave us the ideas that not only did they not have their houses near each other they didn’t have them very close either. Once again, this reinforced the idea of social classes being separate and leading separate lives. The main set change was just before the end of the first half, when the background of the city changed into fields in the countryside. The rest of the set did not really change, apart from the colours of the doors on the terraced houses. When showing the inside of the house, the colours were very different. Mrs. Johnstone’s home was very colourful with a lot of character inside it.

It wasn’t very nice, but it was a lot more cheerful than Mrs. Lyons. Mrs. Lyons home was very much of the same colours and patterns. Although this was to show difference, it made her home seem to have less character. The play was always maintained on one half of the stage or dead in the middle. The play only overtook the whole stage when Eddie and Mickey died at both the start and end of the play. Perhaps the division the whole time was to show social class, and when the twins died the division didn’t matter anymore because class was no longer important to the characters.

When the characters came on stage they entered through the alleyways next to the houses, or through the front door of their own house. There were many places that characters could come onstage and go offstage to show variation. When talking, they would stand at different places around the stage to make sure they used the area they were provided with. Throughout the play the narrator was always stood either right at the back of the stage, or on the level above. He acted like a shadow following them around, and he seemed to act like their conscience.

This helped to reinforce the theme of fate and superstition. There are many songs in this play which helps the actors to involve the audience in the performance. All of the songs help to tell the audience what is going on in the characters minds, and also helps us to learn what has happened in their lives before. The use of a narrator helped to involve the audience because when he speaks it is to address us to what is happening, and also explains things that we may not understand. The narrator was used in a good way in this play as when he spoke he spoke to us, but also to the characters.

Symbolism is used all lot during this play and Marilyn Monroe is a constant symbol. Throughout the play she is compared to both Mrs Johnstone and more towards the end she is also compared to Mickey. At the start of the play Mrs Johnstone is told by her husband that she looks like Marilyn Monroe and dances like her. Marilyn Monroe was also a very beautiful woman that many women wished to look like, and many men wanted to be with. However, after a while Marilyn started to go downhill, just like Mrs. Johnstone. Towards the end of the play Mickey is compared to her because he becomes addicted to prescribed drugs just like her.

This caused her downfall and her death, just like Mickey’s. This is the main symbol that is mentioned. Guns are used by the children at the start of the play to show that to them at the moment it’s all just a game. A key point in the play is when Eddie gives Mickey a toy gun, and Mickey pretends to shoot him. Later in the play this game becomes a reality when Mickey finally does shoot Eddie and kills him. We are not sure if this is meant to happen, but it also shows the twists of fate by symbolism. Lighting plays a big part in any film, program or play.

It is one of the main things that sets the scene in any performance and blood brothers was no different. At the beginning of the play we see a red faded light, which automatically symbolises to us death. This is the main effect where lighting is used to produce a dramatic effect and atmosphere. At other points, lighting was only used to demonstrate night and day. Occasionally, such as when Mickey was in prison, the lighting represented mood, as it was very dark and dingy whilst he and Linda were talking. This helps to show us he is depressed without us even having to be told.

However, whenever the lighting was used to represent night, this was also when most of the bad things in the play happened, such as when Mrs. Lyons tries to kill Mrs. Johnstone. The lighting was bright during times such as when the johnstones moved into the country side. Personally, I enjoyed this play. I think it carried across a message of destiny, when you are meant to be with someone no matter what you will always be together in a way. In this case, Mickey and Eddie were born together and died together. I also believe that this play carries a message of love, but also how love can bring you hatred.

Mrs. Lyons love for Edward brought her hatred for Mrs. Johnstone, who was the woman who gave her the child in the first place. And finally, I believe the play contained a message of wanting more than you can have. All of the characters wanted something in their lives, but even when they had what they wanted, they all had a downfall. Receiving what they wanted only brought them misery. i think the only problem with the play was how Mrs. Johnstone kept falling out of character, and Eddie didn’t seem like a child when he was meant to. Other than that, the play was amazing and I would definitely recommend it.

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