Blood Brothers

Lauren Bowler, Adam Charles, Shane Snow in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Blood Brothers. Photo by David Cooper

Set in the 1960’s in the suburbs of Liverpool, Blood Brothers is a story about socioeconomic classes, struggle for love, and an untold past for blood twins Mickey and Eddie. The tragicomic storyline begins when Mrs. Johnston, a working-class single mother with plenty of children to support, delivers baby twin boys. Unable to keep them both due to her compromised financial and social situation and long-time threats from social workers, she is persuaded to give one of the boys in adoption.

The recipients of the boy are the Lyons, an affluent and influential couple who despite of their efforts to procreate children, have been unsuccessful in their attempts. Mr. Lyon had never contemplated the idea of adopting a child since, according to Mrs. Lyons, “he wants a kid of his own”. However, desperate and anxious to have children, Mrs. Lyons takes advantage of the absence of Mr. Lyons during one of his business trips to draft a plan and adopt a child without him raising suspicions. Nevertheless, for her plan to be successful, Mrs. Lyons must make sure that nobody, ever, knows about the adoption deal – and that includes the boys themselves. Having no other visible option, Mrs. Johnston agrees and swears to keep the secret, which effectively denies her of having any future contact with the adopted boy.

John Mann in Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Blood Brothers. Photo by David Cooper.

Adam Charles and Shane Snow in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Blood Brothers. Photo by David Cooper.

As the kids grow up, they have very different lives. On the one hand, Mickey Johnston is a boy who enjoys the simples things in life. He learns about life in the streets and through his young, yet well experienced older siblings. On the other hand, Eddie Lyons grows to become a well educated, polite kid who enjoys a very refined life surrounded by luxuries and a private education that is out of reach for the majority of kids his age. But destiny plays an interesting trick on them, and despite of their evident different lifestyles, they happen to meet and become best friends -much to the dissatisfaction and distress of their mothers-. Moreover, the intensity of their friendship gets them to agree to become “Blood Brothers”.

From that point on, the story deals with the friendship of Mickey and Eddie throughout their childhood, teens, and early twenties, and how their differences through every age shift makes their friendship to become more difficult to sustain. The problems between Mickey and Eddie are accompanied by the inner struggle by Mrs. Johnston about how and how much to interact with Eddie, and the frantic efforts by Mrs. Lyons to distance Eddie from the Johnstons to avoid risking her secret of being found out.

“Blood Brothers” masters the art of playing with the emotions of the audience. At times, the play is frankly hilarious, having the whole audience bursting in laughter about very innocent, yet creative jokes. However, at later times the play turns to be a chaotic and very confusing environment, which certainly reflects well the emotions that each of the characters are struggling with on stage. Thus, the story evolves on an interesting crescendo of emotions that thrives to build up a climax that blows in full in the very last minutes of the play, leaving the audience with a very intense aftertaste – and a very memorable theatre experience.

This set of “Blood Brothers”, a classic work written by Willy Russell in the early 1980’s, showcases a numerous cast headed by the talents of Adam Charles (Eddie), Shane Snow (Mickey), Meghan Gardiner (Mrs. Lyons), Terra C. McLeod (Mrs. Johnston) and Lauren Bowler (Linda), along with a fantastic group of supporting actors directed by Bill Millerd. The whole cast does an excellent job to keep the story flowing seamlessly, guaranteeing a very memorable time at the theatre. Blood Brothers is running at Arts Club’s Granville Island stage from November 17 until December 31, 2011


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