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Blood Brothers by Willy Russell Paper

On the 20th October 2010, we went to watch ‘Blood Brothers’. Written by Willy Russell, the story is a gripping, emotional and sometimes comical tale of twin brothers from Liverpool who are separated at birth due to the financial desperation of their single mother. Brought up in completely different social backgrounds, their birth mother’s obsessive attempts at keeping her sons from discovering each other lead to a tragic conclusion. I was really surprised how they started the play with a flashback but it worked well, it made me realise that the play is going to have a tragic ending.

It also engaged me to want to watch the play and find out what happens further on into the story. It allowed me as the audience to feel sympathy for the characters without knowing them. My favourite actor was Sean Jones who played the part of Mickey. This is because I really enjoyed how he acted like a seven year old, he used his enthusiasm clearly to make his acting realistic and believable. He portrayed this by using his body language and facial expressions effectively. He was really successful in showing he was upset and arrogant when he wasn’t allowed to play outside, which is originally what a real seven year old would do.

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Sean Jones used his levels effectively to present himself as a seven year old. When his mother told him he wasn’t allowed to go outside, he immediately fell to the floor to show sadness. He also made sure he was engaging with the audience by using facial expressions. One effective facial expression, I personally thought was good was when he dropped his face in an exaggerated way like a child would do if they were sad. His voice was loud and confident to show that Mickey was able to speak his mind, and slightly high pitched to present his age. Sean also showed a shy side of Mickey when he was around Linda.

He showed this by placing his hands in his pockets and looking away as if he was embarrassed. When Mickey was depressed, Sean presented him clearly and effectively. He showed Mickey was depressed by slowing his voice and making it seem slightly slurred. Even though his voice was quite slurred he still kept it loud and understandable. Sean also showed anger by shouting and steeping forward in a threatening way. He was at the front of the stage to make him seem closer to the audience; I think this was to show he was superior and dominant and felt like he had control over the situation.

The other actor I favoured was Nikki Evans who played Mrs. Johnstone because I thought she had a very powerful voice. I think she showed a motherly side to all the children throughout the play. The scene I thought she was effective in was when she gave Edward the locket and she came down to his level. She previously acts quite vicious and keeps on shouting at him, but to me makes it clear she is protecting Mickey and Edward. Both movement and voice were used successfully by this actor, showing Mrs Johnstone was tired and worn out from having a quite stressful life.

This therefore made me feel quite sympathetic for her because she clearly couldn’t manage another child and had no choice to give Edward to Mrs Lyons. In the play I didn’t like the one character, Edward played by Paul Davies because I feel like the actor didn’t change much from a 7 year old to a much older person. Unlike Sean, Paul didn’t put as much energy into his movement around the stage. The scene I really didn’t like which involved him was the shooting scene as he didn’t make his acting seem dramatic instead he was more boring and dull.

He could have improved this scene by using his body language to portray his innocence and weakness. His facial expression didn’t change much unlike Mickey because he was just having a same face, and not changing. For example when Sean Jones said the ‘f’ word Paul Davies had a little bit of a shocked face but not much. The scene I thought was most effective was when Mickey and Edward first meet and become ‘Blood Brothers’. I like this moment because I find that it’s really sweet and makes the audience feel happy and warm. The actors really showed their enthusiasm which made them look and feel like a seven year old.

Mickey tried to impress Edward and attempted to show off, by pulling his jumper over his knees, saying words like ‘piss off’ and the ‘F’ word, this made Edward feel like Mickey is amazing and that he should be his best friend. This proved to us that they were younger than they actually were by using the stage well, by running around as if they were playing a game. I was really disappointed with the last scene. In my opinion there was a lot of poor acting; Edward’s facial expression was completely blank and to me seemed to have no fright in it what so ever.

Also the how the police run in through the audience wasn’t effective because it was quite distracting and confusing as I didn’t know where to look. The lighting was a vital part to the play, it helped to create atmosphere. I felt that the use of red presented an evil feel towards the play. Red originally represents anger, murder and hatred. This happened when Mickey thought Linda was having an affair with Edward, in rage Mickey grabbed a gun and ran off the stage in search of Edward.

They also used lighting to illustrate places they were, like when they were at the cinema and the lights were dimmed but certain lights were flickering on their face which made it look like a real cinema. These also made the audience feel like their part of the story and as if there watching a real film. They also used lighting to portray their emotions, for example when they got rehoused out into the countryside, the lights turned bright and happy, as if it’s a new start to their life, a new beginning. The lighting became brighter to show their emotions turned happy.

This made me feel happy for the Johnstones as they got to start a new life for themselves. In the scene were Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons swear on the bible the lights went dim and a spotlight came down on them. I felt that this was effective as it created a tense environment for the audience and slightly sinister. It also effectively marked the moment. I think the use of music was extremely effective in showing me the different stages of the characters’ lives. ‘The devils got your number’ was dark and sinister, I think it symbolises Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons as if making a deal with Satan.

The fact that the Narrator was singing it made it feel more effective in my opinion; this was because it made you see the narrator as the devil always reminding Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons of their deal. The music they chose went well with the scenes and create different moods, for example when Mrs. Johnston sang ‘and we went dancing’ song created a happy and a jolly mood, before she had children and her husband left her. The music changed when conflict grew for example when Mickey accused Edward of having an affair with Linda, the music changed to a fast tempo with makes the audience alert.

The music also changed when they moved to the countryside which makes the music happy and bright. This makes people feel happy and good as if it’s going to be a good new start. The use of music also portrayed their age, such as the difference sounds of the gun shots. The gun a considerably high pitched, quite ‘ping’ when they were younger, to me this could reflect on their immaturity level and how their life consists of happiness, whereas the gun made a loud, agitated ‘bang’ noise when they older, perhaps this shows that all their happiness have been diluted due to the fact they’ve grown up and symbolises tough times in the character’s lives.

The use of the narrator was really effective. The fact that the narrator was in every scene, I feel that it was effective as it portrayed to the audience that he is being represented as the never leaving past for Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons even though it was the audience who only knew of his existence. He is used to taunt the two characters which eventually led Mrs. Lyons to insanity. Without the narrator, I feel the play wouldn’t have been as effective as you wouldn’t get a deeper view of the play and it generally wouldn’t make any sense.

It also wouldn’t show the progress of Mrs. Lyons madness as clearly. They also used the narrator as thought tracking. The thought tracking was effective as I feel it allowed the audience to interact with the characters feelings and thoughts. In my perspective I feel it presented a clear perspective of each character. The contrast in class was clearly shown from the start of the play. The accents the characters consisted off allowed us to make a judgement on where they fit into society.

The ‘scouse’ accent may be looked down up when compared to the way Mrs Lyons talked. The tone the actors playing the Lyons’ were quite patronising, as if they knew they were better and enhanced the way they talked to portray to the audience. The movement the actors across the stage also helped show the difference in hierarchy. Sean Jones, who played Mickey, made himself look more relaxed and didn’t make himself look approachable, whereas Paul Davies, who played Edward, had good posture and presented himself as a polite character.

The costume the characters wore helped show their class as Sean wore loose fitting clothes with holes in, this reflected how poor his family is and how Mrs Johnstone ached to provide for children but diteriates. Paul however wore smart, fitted clothing that looked expensive. This portrayed that Edward was clearly brought up in a well off house. The set in ‘Blood Brothers’ was really effective because they showed the fact there was two different houses involved in the play. The difference in the houses was that on the rougher side, the houses were dull and boring, parts of the walls were crumbling and they had broken windows.

On the other side of the street was the more posh and more well of houses, the houses on the more well off side had fixed windows, unbroken walls unlike the rougher side of the street. This gives off a theme of class and how it affects people in different backgrounds. In the end I feel like it’s a good play with lots of humour and effective acting. It was completely different to what I expected but a lot better than I thought it would be. It consists of humour, romance and tragic deaths which would generally allow you to not take your eyes of the stage.

It’s a humorous, comical play which will leave the audience mind blown. The actors that took part really did well and their characterisation was brilliant. They all spoke the same accent, even though they weren’t all from Liverpool, which I congratulate them on. The fact there were hardly any people on the stage, I enjoyed as it made the play simple and not complex. I definitely would really take the opportunity to see this play again and I would highly recommend it to a friend or relative.

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