Blood Brothers Evaluation

On 27th March, I saw a performance of Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre in London. After already reading the book, I didn’t think I would enjoy the play very much. I found the story boring and didn’t have much interest in it until nearer the end.

The Drama Medium

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The Use of Costume

In the play, costume was used to illustrate the age and class of the characters. For example, when Mickey and Eddie were children of seven, they both wore clothes that didn’t fit and their outfits obviously stated their families’ budgets. Mickey wore what looked like Sammy’s old, baggy clothes and Eddie wore an un-creased, tight uniform. I think this helped to show the audience the boys’ situation immediately and bring them to terms with how different social classes treat their children.

The Use of Sound/Music

In the play, music was used to demonstrate the certain state of mind that character was in. For example, when Mickey is playing outside his house, the music is very childlike and harmless. But when Mickey is older and his mind is not stable, the music quickly changes tempo and always sounds jumpy and sudden.

I think this helped to express how the character might have been feeling that couldn’t have been expressed through facial expressions or body language. At times, the music was so loud that it drowned the actors’ voices out. Seeing as the songs are used to further the plot, this was quite annoying.

The Use of Lighting

Lighting was also an important element to show how the character was reacting to the situation. For example, when Mrs. Lyons attempted to attack Mrs. Johnstone, the lights flashed repeatedly, as if Mrs. Lyons was battling with her own thoughts.

I think that this was very effective in showing that certain character’s emotions and feelings towards other characters and themselves.

It was also used to show how important the character was. For example, when Mrs. Johnstone sang about how her life quickly changed, there was a spotlight always aimed towards her, like the play was about her and her life. Also, the narrator never had any direct light, as if he was just part of the background, not involved with the rest of the characters.

The Use of Space/Levels

This play was very simple with how they used the space. The Johnstone family spent their lives on the left-hand side of the stage and the Lyons on the right. Only Mickey and Eddie spent most of their time spread across the whole stage.

I think this was done to show how their lives are only separated by a thin imaginary wall, which represents the difference in social class.

The Use of Set/Props

The set was simple and related to the themes of class and money. The stage had a row of houses on either side, the “poor” neighbourhood on the left, and the wealthy houses on the right. The upper floors of the houses were used to house the musicians, who could be seen through the “windows”.

There were only two main changes in scenery, which was when the families were re-housed into the countryside. This was done to show how their lives had immediately changed for the “better”.

The only main props used were two chairs and a table, which were frequently used to represent the inside of the Johnstone’s and Lyon’s house.

I don’t think the props were a big part in the play, but were just to make it feel more realistic. This play could be done very successfully with just two school chairs because the main focus was the acting and emotional impact on the audience.

The Use of Movement/Gesture

In the play, movements and gesture were used to illustrate the differences in personalities with the characters and how they reacted to situations.

For example, younger Mickey’s movements were very untidy and careless because that was his character. However when he grew up, he was very considerate and scared of how his reactions would have an effect on people like Linda and Mrs. Johnstone.

I think this helped the audience to connect with the characters because they saw how these movements changed with the person’s age and maturity.

The Element of Drama

The Plot

The plot focuses on twins who are separated at birth, each to live absolutely opposite lives. Mickey lives in poverty with his biological mother, Mrs. Johnstone, who is constantly attempting and mostly failing at controlling her seemingly infinite number of children. Eddie is given to Mrs. Johnstone’s rich, conniving boss after the overloaded mother realises she can economically only keep one of the boys. This seemed very obvious to me and I was not surprised how the story unfolded. The play was set out in what is called framed.

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