Book – Blood Brothers
Author – Willy Russell
Year – 1986
Genre – Play
Pages – 100

Here is an example of a book that I have had to read for my job.  Blood Brothers has been one of the longest running shows in the West End, but one that I have never had too much interest in seeing.  There is no particular reason for this, it simply hasn’t appealed to me, and as a result, I was not particularly interested in reading this play.

Set in 1970s Liverpool, it follows a set of twins, one of whom is given up for adoption by their mother Mrs Johnstone to a local family of considerably greater wealth than she has.  Their lives run very differently, and the play aims to show how being brought up with some money puts your life on a very different footing.  It is absolutely cram packed with all of the themes and ideas that make it a text to really study in school – possibly an aim considering it started its life as a piece of Theatre In Education (TIE).

This is sometimes off-putting in a story – if you jam a theme and message down a reader’s throat then it sometimes loses its charm – but to my surprise, I found absolutely none of that here.  What follows is a beautifully told story with some incredibly interesting characters, and despite what could seem at times to be a damagingly close brush with cliche, it is actually very moving.  Seeing the less well off twin, Mickey, struggle with the lot that life has dealt him, despite starting as a down to earth and likable character, connects him with the reader that makes the inevitability of his downfall quite heart rending.  Likewise, you can prophesise the
doom of his brother Eddie, despite him coming off as a fantastic person.  The fact that the play starts by telling you the ending lends a sense of foreboding throughout that makes everything that occurs considerably more poignant.

The production is currently touring, and it pains me that I had not realised just how good a show this is before it visited my local theatre back before Christmas, but I shall make pains to go and see it when it next comes around, and in the meantime shall look forward to analysing it with my classes this year.