Theatre Review: BLOOD BROTHERS – The Lowry, Salford

BLOOD BROTHERS UK Tour 2019

While this latest touring production may not be as polished as previous incarnations, BLOOD BROTHERS still packs a hefty punch

4 out of 5 stars

Few musicals can boast as much acclaim as the multi-award-winning BLOOD BROTHERS. Running for more than 24 years in London’s West End, Bill Kenwright’s production has played more than 10,000 performances to become the third longest-running musical production in West End history. It also continues to see great success on tour as fans packed out The Lowry’s Lyric Theatre to see the latest revival of this much-loved musical.

Written in 1983 by Willy Russell, BLOOD BROTHERS tells the moving tale of twins separated at birth. When hard-up mum of seven Mrs Johnstone finds out she’s expecting twins, she reluctantly agrees to give one away to her childless and desperate employer, Mrs Lyons. The boys grow up on the opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again years later with fateful consequences.

BLOOD BROTHERS UK Tour 2019

Those who have seen BLOOD BROTHERS before will know just how captivating a story this is. Russell’s witty script and emotionally charged score including BRIGHT NEW DAY, MARYLIN MONROE and TELL ME IT’S NOT TRUE still has the ability to pull on the heartstrings and it’s observations on social class and inequality remain as resonating today as they did in the 1980s.

Much of the show’s success lies in the compelling performances from the cast, all of whom deliver excellent performances. Alexander Patmore delivers a believable and powerful performance as Mickey, transitioning from cheeky adolescence to the mere shell of a man in adulthood in mesmerising fashion. Joel Benedict is equally captivating as Mickey’s twin Eddie, while Danielle Corlass is strong as childhood friend Linda.

BLOOD BROTHERS UK Tour 2019

But the central role in BLOOD BROTHERS is always that of Mrs Johnstone, the Liverpudlian mum who, in a moment of desperation, enters into a pact with her employer. Over the years the show has seen many leading ladies take on the role of Mrs Johnstone including Barbara Dickson, Kiki Dee, Melanie Chisholm and Maureen Nolan to name just a few and while new leading lady Linzi Hateley may not boast the vocal power of her predecessor Lyn Paul, she pours emotion and meaning into every line and song to deliver a warm, engaging and convincing performance.

Shame then that technical issues spoilt an otherwise flawless performance of this cult musical. On more than one occasion, the lighting was slow to respond, often leaving cast members stood in the dark while the live band has the tendency to overpower the vocals on stage, making it difficult to hear at times.

That said, while this particular production isn’t as polished as previous incarnations, BLOOD BROTHERS still packs a hefty punch, bringing the audience to their feet for a standing ovation and no fewer than three curtain calls.

BLOOD BROTHERS runs at The Lowry, Salford until 13 April 2019.