Here in Bucks, we’re often blessed with the finest theatre productions coming straight to our front door. Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers is a mainstay of British Theatre and the West End, and has just finished a run at Wycombe Swan that will live long in the memory.
Before arriving at the Wycombe Swan for the opening night of the run of Blood Brothers, I knew literally nothing about the show. I’d certainly never seen it, but I didn’t even have an inkling as to the story, context or the sheer tragedy that would profoundly impact me by the end of the evening.
Set in Liverpool in the 1960s through to the early 1980s, Blood Brothers follows the life of Mrs Johnstone and her twin sons whom are separated at birth due to her economic inability to raise them both. However, in the opening scene, the narrator, a conscience/ devil-like character portrayed superbly by Robbie Scotcher, lays down a dramatic and tragic gauntlet that haunts the rest of the story. As the plot progresses and the children grow up, the innocence of their childish games starts to be tainted by choices made by the adults many years before.
It’s an exploration of family, love and growing up, and was brilliantly played out with the same actors playing each character from childhood to adulthood, using subtle changes in voice and behaviour to signify age. A special mention to Sean Jones, playing Mickey, who’s shift from child to adult was especially commendable and indeed heart-breaking, so much so that even he seemed overwhelmed with the emotion of the ending during the bows.
Overall, it was funny, heart-warming and despairingly sad in equal measure, sensitively performed in a wonderful production that wouldn’t fail to move even the most stoic audience. If you ever get the chance to see it, it’s a straight-up recommendation from me.