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Review by Graham Lupepe
One of the longest running pieces of musical theatre comes back to Nottingham's Theatre Royal but newcomers may wonder what all the fuss is about.
The tale centres on two twin brothers separated at birth, ending up at different ends of the class system but whose lives are intertwined by fate and ultimately end in tragedy.
Keith Burns plays the role of narrator with real punch. Standing on stage almost as an onlooker throughout most of the scenes, he watches ominously over the proceedings acting as a physical manifestation of the characters 'conscience' as the drama is played out before the audience.
The musical pieces were well performed with the entire cast being able to hold a tune. Linda Nolan was well placed to show off her musical pedigree as working-class single mother Mrs Johnstone.
The scenes of act one, during the brothers' childhood were staged well and with a large dollop of humour. In particular the boyish enthusiasm of one of the brothers, Mickey, who's not seven but 'nearly eight' is infectious as he relishes every naughty word and spit ball that comes out of his mouth.
The second act is darker as the characters grow older and are forced to deal with the realities of life. It's here where the events put in motion in act one come to a head with most characters being equally adept at displaying heartfelt emotions of grief and despair as they are at pretending to play 'cowboys and indians'.
Overall, the set design was good although at times the liberal usage of fairy lights made the background look more like downtown Manhattan than 1970s Liverpool.
The weakest aspect of the musical is actually the music itself. Half expecting to leave the theatre singing bits of the songs back to myself, I found that, in fact, a couple hours later I could barely remember any of the songs at all with only some vague recollection of there being a song about 'dancing' in there somewhere.
Blood Brothers has built up a cult following over the years, fans will know exactly what to expect and will almost certainly enjoy every minute of it. Newcomers may wonder what all the fuss is about but will no doubt be entertained by a cast that delivers solid performances all round.
last updated: 11/04/2008 at 11:25