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Blood Brothers Persuasive

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I went to see the musical `Blood Brothers’ at the North Wales Theatre in Llandudno, on Monday, 23^rd October. A professional company performed it and the directors were Bill Kenwright and Bob Thompson. The playwright Willy Russell wrote `Blood Brothers’. I thought the show excellent and it definitely fulfilled the high expectations I had of it. The play was essentially a social comedy, but it was partially a tragedy also, both the comedy and tragedy themes kept the audience on the edge of their seats.

The production was credible and realistic as people were moved to tears by he end of the performance and the whole house gave a standing ovation. The beginning of the show was extremely effective; it showed the two `Blood Brothers’ Mickey and Eddie, lying dead, side by side and equal at last. The stillness created here, by the lack of music was very powerful. The twins were then solemnly carried off stage. The silence and red lighting created a surreal effect. This image was only broken when a gauze screen (that we previously did not realise was there) was lifted and the narrator interrupted the silence with his opening lines.

The actor’s interpretation of the narrator was exceptional. The narrator represented many themes; as fate, fear, the devil, superstition, God, a messenger and was a constant embodiment of the past. The narrator was ever present on stage; his haunting, shadowy presence was a reminder, throughout the play, of the first scene. His tense, rigid body language produced a sense of judgement, as he stealthily crept around the stage and his furtive, brooding presence was always indicative of fate. The narrator controlled the play. He calmly, sinisterly handed the Bible to Mrs Johnstone and was always skulking around the stage, watching.

The audience also started to feel hreatened by the narrator and looked for him in every scene. This effect was created by the way the other characters were scared of him and the volume, anger and violence with which he sang. The most enjoyable parts of the production were when the children were onstage. They had the audience crying with laughter due to their `’Cowboys and Indians” game and their spitting: “straight in y’ eye from twenty yards/ An’ every time a hit” and swearing: “I got y’/ I shot y’/ An’ y’ bloody know I did”.

The actors’ portrayal of Mickey, Eddie and Linda as children were all very elievable, they definitely did not seem like adults playing children they were children. I think the actors gave across this impression by always being low down near the floor and looking upwards, by talking in a higher pitch and by showing admiration: “I wish I was our Sammy” and giggling a lot. They also altered their mannerisms so that everything they did was restless, quick and fidgety. I did not think that the role of Mrs Lyons was conveyed to the audience as well as it could have been.

Towards the end of the play Mrs Lyons goes insane with guilt, fear and longing. However, this was ot shown clearly in this interpretation so we could not understand some of Mrs Lyon’s later actions. We do not see that Mrs Lyons is mad so this makes the fight between her and Mrs Johnstone seem unlikely and fake. The fight itself looked flimsy and unrealistic. I think the character should have been developed further and that the fight should have been acted out more convincingly.

In the song “My Child” Mrs Lyons took the dominant role, but this was not supported, as her voice was very weak in comparison to Mrs Johnstones’. The stage traffic was cleverly worked out. Everything took lace in the middle of the stage and so all props were brought on by the characters. However, the characters never paused or stopped whilst changing or moving the props, they just casually and simply acted around them. On the bus scene and school scene the seats and tables were all calmly brought on by the actors themselves.

The simplicity of the scenery and props was capitalised on, in that it served to emphasise the quality of the acting. It also left a lot to the imagination and yet still clearly portrayed it’s meaning. One action I liked was when the actors came on in pairs for a scene in a theme ark, stood in a line and moving in pairs up and down from crouched to standing managed to imitate a roller-coaster. The scenery, like the props, was very uncluttered and straightforward with Mrs Lyons’ house on one side of the stage and Mrs Johnstones’ on the other.

The gap in the middle, the main acting area was used as the street, classroom, bus, theme park and the interior of Mrs Lyons’ home. This space in between the houses seemed to symbolise the distance and differences between them socially. When both families moved to the country, instead of having the original graffiti covered rick walls, the flats were painted with mountains and trees. My only criticism of the scenery was that the houses did not change that much when the move took place, this was quite confusing, as it was hard to then distinguish where the characters were.

Lighting was used to symbolise good and evil. Mrs Johnstone invariably had a bright spotlight on her and the Narrator, by contrast, was in the black or the shadow. It was only when the narrator sang that the spotlight focussed on him, in the song “Devils got your number” the spotlights were flickering and rapidly changing olour as though to represent chaos and turmoil. The red light in the first and very last scenes was symbolic of the blood, danger and anger involved.

The play had quite a fast pace, there was always something happening and especially towards the end the tension was built up by lots of action and movement around the stage. Superstition featured heavily in the play. Mrs Johnstones fear of the shoes upon the table: “Oh God, Mrs Lyons, never put new shoes on a table… You never know what’ll happen” is at first laughed at by Mrs Lyons. Yet later this fear rubs off and when Mr Lyons nconcernedly places the shoes on the table Mrs Lyons screams and rushes forward to knock them off.

The narrator has an opposite way of portraying superstition he is menacingly calm. These three different effects: Mrs Johnstones’ abeyance, Mrs Lyons’ terror and the narrator’s cool conveyance create a lasting impression of impeding doom. It poses the question of coincidence? Or not? This tension and uneasiness in the audience is only relieved in the moments of laughter and by the sadness at the end when the twins die. The social differences between the two families are highlighted by the policeman’s attitude to them.

He threatens Mrs Johnstone: “Either you keep them in order, Missis, or it’ll be the courts for you, or worse, won’t it? ” and yet is jovial to Mrs Lyons: “he’s a good lad” even though he is visiting them about the same matter. The greatest difference however is seen in the twins, who although being born to the same mother grow up completely different both in outlook and behaviour. The twins’ fate is sealed when they are split at birth and despite being `Blood Brothers’ they are only “together” and “equal” in death. Overall I thought this was an outstanding play and production.

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