Recently me and my associate Ben and I went to the Birmingham Hippodrome to see hippos, uh, I mean Blood Brothers, a musical drama comedy set in the sixties/seventies.
I went into the show not knowing anything about the play. I didn’t look it up; I didn’t read about it, I didn’t even know it was a musical. All I knew was that [SPOILER ALERT] they die at the end. I went into this thinking it was a drama set in New York where everyone was a wise guy and got whacked, so you can imagine how surprised I was when they all started singing in Geordie accents.
The beginning of the show told us about how the mother kept getting pregnant, and had something like nine children. We didn’t really need to know this because we only ever saw three of them, including one half of our lead characters. The play is about, if you don’t already know, this working class woman who is about to have twins, but gives one of them away to a friend who can’t have children, and they’re both brought up at opposite ends of the spectrum; one being working class, and the other being middle/upper class. Inevitably, the two twins meet, and luckily they’re not identical twins.
So the first half of the show focuses on the two twins meeting and becoming friends, only to be separated. The first half was fairly well acted; the only thing was that they had adults playing children. Don’t get me wrong, they did a good job of it, but it’s difficult to take them seriously as children when some of them are towering over the supposed grown-ups.
Oh yeah, and another thing that got me was the narrator, played by Mardy Pillow, or something along those lines, who I think was famous once, but is now reduced to staring in musicals. He stood about the stage, often just wondering in and out of the scenery, but when he spoke he seemed to, rather than say his lines, slur them. Seriously, it was as if he’d downed a bottled of Jack Daniels before the show and was a little pissed. It was worse when he sang, and even worse when he shouted. He sounded like a stoned tramp that was seeing spiders crawl up his skin.
And another thing that annoyed me is how he, at times, interacted with the cast. He would stop them and look at them, or hand them things/takes things away. I thought that maybe he represented some unseen entity that was observing the scenario, and pulling people together and apart, like an angel or something, and that he was making all this happen, so that what would ultimately happen in the end would be down to him, and it was meant to be, but… no. That wasn’t it. I’m guessing he was just asking for change or something.
The first act ended with both families, the poor one and the rich one, moving to the country. This lead to the rich mother going insane upon discovering the poor family had moved as well, and even attempting to kill the poor mum.
One thing that lost me about the second half was that most of it was narrated, by Marty Pillar, or something like that, and so I had no idea what was happening. I didn’t realise that the characters had grown up, they just ran around doing things while Marty just slurred his way through his lines. And another thing was that it seemed that the emphasis was more on the characters as children in the first half, rather than them growing and maturing in the second, this was left down to Marty Silo, or something, and his drunken ramblings.
And another thing that I didn’t like was the songs. They weren’t particularly bad, it’s just that there only seemed to be three of them, and they just sang them over and over again. And with the ending, not that it was bad, but I would have liked to have seen what happened to the remaining characters. Did they get on with their lives as normal? Were there families destroyed and torn apart? ALL SHALL BE ANSWERED IN… BLOOD BROTHERS 2.
Weren’t too keen on the comedy in it either. There were a few jokes that made me laugh, but mostly the jokes included spitting (which there was a lot of), the children saying “Adolf Hitler” when asked what their names are by a policeman (a joke they used twice) and one character shouting the word “Tits” over and over again after seeing a porno. Because, you know, that’s what people do, I guess.
But don’t get me wrong, the show was good, and the audience (which consisted mostly of ageing women) was thoroughly entertained. The acting was good, and only got better as the show went into its second half. One actor who stood out to me was the guy who played the poor twin (I’ve forgotten their names) who was good playing the older version of the character. The songs were okay, all three of them, and they were well performed and sung.
Our rating: (3 / 5)