Review: Blood Brothers

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 08:08 01/07/2014

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Blood Brothers is an uneven but ultimately moving piece of musical theatre.

This class fable, set in postwar Liverpool in the north of England, follows the tragic fate of twin brothers separated at birth.

Written by playwright Willy Russell, author of the equally marvellous Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita, the musical was created in 1983 and ran on the West End in London for 26 years.

The Court Theatre's slick and handsomely staged production is ultimately a success but has some uneven moments.

Some of the problems may lie with the material. The script is a stunning piece of work but it has aged a little in the nearly three decades since it was written. It perhaps hammers home the theme and message a little more insistently than a modern play might, while certain scenes feel like the deliberate melodrama has been turned a little high.

But, equally there are some very powerful and moving moments.

Some scenes work incredibly well, while others were harder to sell. This inconsistency is not helped by the fact that some cast members have a reasonable grasp of the Liverpudlian accent, while others struggle.

It can pull you out of a scene a little when a character's accent is wavering between regions.

But the show is held together by a standout performance from Ali Harper as the matriarch. She has a fantastic voice, and judges the role well as the still and loving centre at a whirlwind of youth.

The strength of the songs and the script shine through in this production. Blood Brothers still stands as a tragic and powerful meditation on fate and class.

Blood Brothers, at the Court Theatre. Reviewed by Charlie Gates.

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