Blood Brothers Evaluation
The play that we went to see was called “Blood Brothers”. The date of the performance was 4th February 2008, at the Phoenix Theatre. The play was about two families. One was a working class family and the other was a middle class family. The mother of the working class family had twins and gave one of them to the other family. The play looked at the contrast in the way the two boys were brought up and the issue of social class in Britain in 1960. The main themes of the play were; superstition and socio-economic status.
In the narrators opening passage he tells us what happens in the play. That gives the audience a chance to make judgements on the characters we have been told about and it creates an aspect of tension whilst waiting for the other characters to be introduced. The narrator says that the twins who were separated at birth come to meet and in the end they die.
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The play was structured well. The opening of the play really grabbed the audience’s attention when we saw Eddie and Mickey dead on the floor. It created tension in the audience because we did not know who was dead or how it had happened. The actors and lighting were able to show a big divide in the socio- economic status. When Mrs Johnstone was crying for her sons the audience felt empathy towards her however when the Lyons’ came on the stage the actors used levels to give a sense or superiority which the audience felt cold towards. Then there was a flash back with the narrator telling us the story from the beginning.
Mrs Johnstone’s character read out a monologue and when she mentioned her dancing she started to sing it. This was an effective technique because the audience were immediately drawn in to listen.. Trough the use of narration a sense or dramatic ironing was created amongst the audience. Firstly only Mrs Johnstone, Mrs Lyons and the audience knew who the twins really belonged to. Also we, the audience, were the only ones who knew that in the end the boys would die.
Eddie and Mickey were able to portray the ages of 7, 14 and 21 very well. For example when Mickey first appeared on stage at the age of 7 his hair was messy and he had mud stains on his face and knees. We could tell, just by looking at him, that he was young and playing with his friends. Not only did his costume help show his age but it also highlighted that he was from the working class family. The sweater vest was ripped and had holes in it, and it was a lot bigger than Mickey which we could assume was because it was a hand-me-down.
On the other hand Eddie’s costume was neat and tidy and he was very clean. The actor was still able to play a 7 year old by using effective gestures and vocal techniques. For his age he was very intellectual but when he put up his hand to ask a question that reminded us of his true age. Furthermore, in the scene where Mrs Johnstone told Eddie he wasn’t allowed to play with Mickey anymore she told him to go or the bogeyman would get him. A young boy wouldn’t know that the “bogey man” was just a story.
When Mickey’s character read out the “nearly eight” monologue his was full of life. The character was energetic and quick, also he got distracted easily. This made the audience see him as a kid who loved life. After Mickey came out of prison he was slow in his speech and movement. With the use gesture and movement the audience could see that Mickey was depressed. It would be hard for the audience to imagine that the child they saw only minutes ago had transformed into an ill man. I felt empathy towards Mickey after he came out of prison because he had a wife with a baby on the way and he didn’t have a job. Eddie was Mickey’s best friend and his unknown twin, yet they were the complete opposite. Eddie was a young university graduate with a successful future ahead of him, whereas Mickey was basically an old man who had no future.
The stage was split in half. On one side was the council estate and on the other were the middle class houses. By the director choosing to contrast the socio-economic classes like that he was able to use levels. The council estate was dark and dingy then suddenly as you looked to the right of the stage there was one big house that lit up the stage. Tension and atmosphere was created through the use of sound effects and music. When the narrator was singing “The Devils Got Your Number” it was loud and the rhythm was quick and scary but when the twins died the music was slow and sad.
The effect that the last scene had on the audience was immense. Mickey had flipped and was pointing the gun at Eddie. Everyone one in the audience was still waiting for the gun to go off. The actors were able to hide the queue for the shot well because when the crack of the gun went and the lights flashed the whole of the audience flew back into there seats.
Throughout the play the narrator was in the scene, either watching or telling us information that we needed to know. He acted as a window into the past of the lives of the characters. He was dressed in black to blend into the background but also as a hard formal look.
To conclude, the aspects I thought worked well were the positioning of the two households. As I have stated above it really showed the contrast in class. What also worked well was the tension in the final scene; the suspense that the actors created sent shivers down my spine. There were not aspects that I thought didn’t work well, however I feel some could have been improved. For instance the scene where Mrs Lyons attempts to stab Mrs Johnstone I feel that it could have been developed to look more realistic. If I were directing the play I would have made Mrs Johnstone put up more of a struggle to stop the knife touching her. I also would have got Mrs Lyons to slap Mrs Johnstone to increase the tension in the kitchen.
Whose fault was it that the twins died? I feel that it was Mrs Lyons was the main reason for their death. Mrs Lyons pressured Mrs Johnstone into doing something she didn’t want to do. Mrs Johnstone did have the power to say no but because she worked to Mrs Lyons; I think that she felt inferior to her. Willy Russell wrote the play to highlight the fact that your socio-economic status had a real impact on your life. He wanted the audience to realise how much of a difference your class made on your life and how wrong that was.
He is saying that the British society in the 1960’s was unfair and didn’t give equal opportunities. Equal opportunities are still an issue in today’s society but for other issues such as race or religion. From the production I learnt how hard it must be to practise for a big performance to make it as good as they made it for us.