Superstition In Blood Brothers

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Over the past term, me and my fellow classmates have studied the play ‘Blood Brothers’ by Willy Russell. The hit West-End show follows the story of two twins, separated at birth and brought up in two very different social backgrounds; one growing up in a rich family, while the other remains with his real mother in a poor family, living in the slums of Liverpool.

The play explores many themes, ranging from the problems of society, to the possibility of superstition playing a massive part on life.

After we watched ‘Blood Brothers’, we acted out certain scenes from the script and attempted to use various techniques to portray the story in many different ways. ‘Blood Brothers’ tells the tale of Mickey and Eddie, two twins separated at birth due to a number of reasons.

The first act introduces the story, and examines the events leading up to the birth. It also witnesses their first meetings as children. This part of the play is very comedic, however the frequent use of the narrator (who plays a paramount role throughout the play) quickly shifts what appears to be a funny scene into a dark and eerie one.

The second act sees the reunion of the brothers, now hit with puberty, and an increasing sense of competition.

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Although initially positive, the story takes a turn for the worse when Mickey is badly affected by the poor economy of the 80s, and turns to crime as a source of income. He is then arrested, and falls into a deep sense of depression, despite being recently married to his teenage love, Linda (whom Eddie also shares a love of). The play comes to a climactic ending, where both brothers are killed following Mickey’s mental breakdown.

The play discusses (in a slightly left-wing fashion) the problems of a class system in society, and how this can tear families apart, and ruin lives. It also investigates whether superstition plays a role on life, with the narrator constantly supporting this idea. Mickey, is one of the brothers who still lives with his real mother, while Eddie grows up in a more upper-class background. The pair are very friendly to each other to start with, and their friendship grows, but then collapses towards the end. Mrs Johnstone is the real mother who was left by her husband a few years before.

Mrs Lyons is the woman who Eddie is brought up to know as ‘Mother’, who like Mickey suffers a mental breakdown. These two, unlike their sons despise each other a little way into the plot. When we read the script, the very first scene we performed was opening of the play in Act One. This scene studies the events leading up to the birth of the twins, and how Mrs Johnstone could be convinced to give up one of her sons. The main reason for her seemingly cruel decision was to still be able to look after her family financially.

She claims that had she only one child, she could provide enough food for everyone, however with any more it was impossible. To make this scene interesting, we used a range of different techniques. The first and most obvious was role-play, a drama medium (various ways to communicate dramatically to the audience). We did this by attempting Liverpudlean accents, doing different gestures, and moving in unique ways that we believed the characters would in real life. In this scene, I played the milkman and gynaecologist.

The milkman had a very stereotypical Liverpudlean voice, and a slightly lazy posture to illustrate his boredom of delivering milk day in and day out. The gynaecologist however, was quite the opposite. He was well-spoken, and took a rather positive view on life. His movements were quick and small. The milkman, like Mrs Johnstone was fed up with life, and was feeling the hardships of life more than others. The doctor was happier, partly because of his social status. The small choice of changing some attributes contributed to showing how much class played a part on life. Another technique we used was props.

We had to bring in an object that would help portray the character. I brought in an empty glass bottle that helped show the character’s profession. This scene was important to the play as it laid out the path for the story to continue. One of the other groups performed the scene where Eddie becomes very angry with his mother for not allowing him to play with Mickey. They used still image to mark a specific moment. This made the scene memorable, and that point stand out. In the second act, we performed the scene where Mickey argues with Linda over why he needs his pills.

The scene is very depressing, and shows how hard Mickey’s life is. I played Mickey, and once again used role-play. His movements were a lot slower than in the first act, and he was much quieter. However a technique that I felt made the scene more interesting was mime. As another part of the scene was going on, I acted out silently in the background Mickey at work, trying to stop the urge to take his anti-depressants. We utilised staging, an explorative strategy to make the scene more interesting for the viewer, while still understandable.

As the scene went on, we also dimmed the lights to show Mickey’s mental state getting more and more disturbed and unpredictable, this is an example of an element of drama we used. This scene was one of the last parts in the play where Mickey is sane, and shows what may have led him to go mad, and kill his former best friend. One group did the final scene, where both die. This scene is ultimately tragic, but also shows the consequences certain actions can have in the future. When Mickey shoots Eddie, they used slow motion (an explorative strategy) to show the importance of that scene.

Overall, the work we have done so far has greatly improved my understanding of how to perform a scripted play to the audience by also using interesting techniques to portray a certain message. The work of other groups worked impeccably well at portraying the story behind the play, as did the work of ours. The range of techniques used created memorable and believable scenes that kept the audience captivated, and wanting more. The work this term has contributed greatly to my understanding of drama, and how to appreciate as well as enjoy other pieces of work that utilise these techniques.

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Superstition In Blood Brothers
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