BLOOD BROTHERS Review: Willy Russell’s award-winning musical has not lost any of its power

Captivating and incredibly moving, Willy Russell’s award-winning musical BLOOD BROTHERS has not lost any of its power

Willy Russell’s award-winning musical BLOOD BROTHERS may be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year but the heart-breaking piece of theatre has not lost any of its power. No matter how many times I see BLOOD BROTHERS, I still get a lump in my throat as I watch the moving story unravel.

Set in 1960s Liverpool, BLOOD BROTHERS tells the captivating tale of two brothers, Eddie and Mickey, who are separated at birth. Mrs Johnstone is a single mum struggling to make ends meet when she discovers she is pregnant with twins. Her childless employer, the wealthy Mrs Lyons, offers to take one of the twins and bring him up as her own and Mrs Johnstone reluctantly agrees. The boys grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again years later with fateful consequences.


Funny, warm and completely heart-breaking, BLOOD BROTHERS is a powerful and poignant musical which stands the test of time. Russell’s witty script not only makes you laugh, but also makes you cry, and its timeless themes of poverty, social class, inequality and mental health remain as relevant as ever.

All of the cast are superb here with narrator Mathew Craig setting the scene and lurking in the background almost throughout like a smartly-suited spectre. Sean Jones delivers an excellent performance as Mickey, transitioning from a cheeky young boy to a young man with mental health issues with both power and poignancy. Jones’ performance is equally offset by the talented Mark Hutchinson whose affability and sensitivity as fraternal twin Eddie makes him a delight to watch.

But the real star of the show is Lyn Paul who, after 21 years with the production, finally says goodbye to the role of Mrs Johnstone. Paul is a revelation, bringing raw emotion, empathy and resilience to the role of the impoverished birth mother and her voice has lost none of its power as she belts out hits like MARILYN MONROE, BRIGHT NEW DAY, EASY TERMS and TELL ME IT’S NOT TRUE.

Blood Brothers - Lyn Paul as Mrs Johnstone

In fact, there is very little not to like here with the whole production delivering a rollercoaster of emotions, making you laugh-out-loud one minute and feeling a lump in the throat the next. Add in a superb musical score brilliantly played by the live orchestra and you cannot fail to be moved.

If you only ever watch one show in your lifetime, make sure it is this one.

5 out of 5 stars

BLOOD BROTHERS runs at Palace Theatre, Manchester until 26 May 2018