New Victoria Theatre Woking
Currently On Tour
17 January 2017
Tour Information – Book Now
There’s a reason that Blood Brothers is the third longest-running show in the West End history, and for its continued touring success (I think possibly only Bill Kenwright and Willy Russell know for sure how long the tour has been on the road!), and why like tonight at a full house in Woking, every member of the audience stood at the end, and that’s because this is a show with no fancy airs or graces that captures your heart.
It was interesting for me to see this long-runner tonight with a Blood Brothers virgin and sometimes you need to realise that there are those people who still haven’t seen this show, so to go too deeply into the plot would provide too many spoilers so I’m just going to talk about the performances and the quality of the show itself.
Blood Brothers is a show which relies on a few major things. Get any of these factors wrong and you’re sunk before you begin. Firstly, because most of the actors have a playing age of 7 to 28 (ish) you must honestly buy into their portrayal of children, secondly, the truth and intensity of the drama on stage must never wane (always a challenge with long-running shows and tours), and lastly timing is everything – this show has the mother of all endings, but if mistimed it all goes down the plug hole.
This cast has nailed the child-like aspects their roles demand. Their physicality, nuanced reactions and tentative boldness had the audience in stitches. Beautifully handled, and thanks to careful staging the first act’s youthful vigour is a treat. Adam Search’s Sammy, Alison Crawford’s Linda, Joanne McShanes Brenda, and Henry Regan’s Perkins (ouch!) were just wonderful.
As twins Sean Jones (Mickey) and Mark Hutchinson (Eddie) were on the money as the whole nature vs nuture scenario is played out in Thatcherite Britain. Solid performances throughout and a real bond made this pairing one of the better combinations I’ve seen.
The role of The Narrator played by Dean Chisnall is a tricky affair. The Narrator in Blood Brothers is an embodiment of the truth. Always there, despite denial and pretence, confronting the principal characters at their most vulnerable moments and guiding the audience through this gritty tale. Chisnall nails it, cool and suave yet menacing and ever-present, this is a fresh performance of a character than can often dissolve into the shadows.
This Blood Brothers company is blessed by the presence of Tim Churchill as Mr Lyons, Graham Martin whose transformation from public school Principal to over-worked comprehensive teacher was outstanding, and Sarah Jane Buckley who’s Mrs Lyons had paranoia in abundance, never overplayed but simmering away until without saying a word she boiled over setting up the ending of the tale. It’s a talented ensemble of great actors.
Then of course, there’s the marvellous Lyn Paul as Mrs Johnstone. This is a performance that is brimming with truth, knowing and just pure talent. Paul manages to exude buckets of motherly love that you can feel right out into a massive auditorium. By the end, you really can see the palid face of a bereft mother. Perfection.
I always love seeing Blood Brothers with an audience of teenage kids. You know that they won’t tolerate crap. Throughout the performance tonight they were silent, then laughing, engaged in the drama and after the show cheering before huddling in small groups in tears. Such is the power of honest to goodness story-telling. Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright (Directors), Phil Gostelow (Musical Director) and Andy Walmsley (Design), Nick Riching (Lighting) and Dan Samson (Sound) are to be congratulated for keeping the show fresh, alive and relevant to young theatre audiences.
My two favourite moments tonight had to include Miss Jones and the Shoes Upon The Table/Madman numbers. In austerity Britain, Miss Jones complete with unemployment queue struck a chord.
As for the precision I mentioned at the end of the show, it was dead-on. The nervous titter of an audience in shock was heard as it should be.
If you haven’t seen Blood Brothers make a point of catching the current tour. Mind you if the show can fill a theatre on a Tuesday night you might have to move quick!
Our apologies, at the time of going live with this review current cast photographs were not available.