Russell’s tale still hits the spot

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THE smash-hit musical drama Blood Brothers has been earning standing ovations for many years and Nottingham’s Theatre Royal offering was no exception.

Willy Russell’s masterpiece is celebrating its 28th anniversary and the story of the Johnstone twins, separated at birth, ‘one kept, one given away’ has lost nothing in the telling.

Maureen Nolan stars as Mrs Johnstone, a young Liverpool mother left with seven young mouths to feed when her feckless husband legs it with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike. He

leaves her pregnant yet again, this time with twins.

It is a baby too far. In desperation she enters into a pact with her wealthy employer Mrs Lyons (Paula Tappenden), who yearns for a child.

The twin boys are parted and their contrasting social backgrounds lead inexorably to the show’s shattering climax.

Nobody else knows the secret except the narrator (Warwick Evans) and it hovers above the plot like a darkening cloud, as his constant, menacing reminders hammer home the message that there is always a price to be paid, a debt to be honoured.

Despite the efforts of their mothers to keep them apart, the boys become best friends - blood brothers unaware of their true relationship.

Here, Sean Jones, outstanding as Mickey, the twin left at home, and Mark Hutchinson (Eddie), with a path marked from posh upbringing to university, give compelling performances. And Linda, the love of their lives, provides a vehicle for a fine portrayal from Olivia Sloyan. Daniel Taylor as Sammy, Mickey’s wayward elder brother, also excels.

A talented cast explore childhood at differing class levels in the city, treating the

audience to some hilarious scenes against a stark set depicting the city’s council estate

backstreets.

Then the bittersweet magic of the teen years is followed by the inevitable parting as Eddie heads for better things and Mickey begins a downward spiral.

Blood Brothers is at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until Saturday, April 20.