Willy Russell’s tragic musical received a standing ovation at Bournemouth’s Pavilion Theatre on Tuesday.
Blood Brothers tells the story of Mickey and Eddie, twins who are separated at birth, when their mother can’t afford to raise both of them. Mickey stays with her, and grows up in a poor, working-class family, while Eddie is given to the wealthy Mrs Lyons, who has been struggling to conceive.
Despite their very different lives, fate continues to throw Eddie and Mickey together. They become best friends and ‘blood brothers’, despite being unaware that they’re actually related. The show then charts their friendship throughout their teenage years, into adulthood.
While Eddie enjoys his life of privilege and success, Mickey becomes increasingly unhappy. Eventually their differences become too much for Mickey, and the pair’s relationship meets a tragic end.
With stellar performances all round, the show was captivating from beginning to end. Each act is cleverly constructed and although the story spans nearly three decades, it never feels rushed.
Special mention must be made to Joel Benedict and Alex Patmore, who played Eddie and Mickey respectively. Their performances at the start, as seven (nearly eight!) year-olds, never feel cloying or over the top. Instead, the physicality of their childlike mannerisms lends itself to a lot of comedic moments.
Their characters’ development felt natural and believable, their friendship heart-warming, and its decline devastating.
I laughed, I cried, and I held my breath throughout the whole of the second act’s big, climactic conclusion. The final number (‘Tell Me It’s Not True’) perfectly captured a mother’s grief in its purest and most raw form, without feeling like it was trying too hard to pull at the heartstrings. Throughout the show, the characters’ emotions felt real and honest, which is arguably why they stayed in my mind long after I left the theatre.
“Make sure you have some tissues ready,” I was told, when I tweeted that I was about to watch Blood Brothers. This turned out to be pretty sound advice.
The UK touring production of Blood Brothers is in Bournemouth until 2 March. Tickets are available here.