In Drama for the live performance we went to see Blood brothers on 6th February 2012. We went as a class to the evening performance which was at the Cumberland Empire. The play was written by Wily Russell, from Liverpool in 1981. The play is about the differences in social class between a pair of twins that were separated at birth. Mrs. Johnston gave up one of her twins to Mrs. Lyons (who couldn’t have children) Mrs. Johnston is a suspicious woman so Mrs. Lyons made her swear on the bible that if the twins were ever to find out they were one of a pair they would die.
This of Scores came true the narrator then asks is it superstition or class that killed the twins. I was looking forward to seeing the play as I had already seen it before in London and enjoyed it and I couldn’t wait to see it again. The play was touring from London and starred Marti Fellow as the Narrator and Maureen Nolan as Mrs. Johnston. The theaters stage floor was raked and there was a raked auditorium also. It is an old theatre so the stage wouldn’t have been raked when it was built but it is now raked so the audience can have a full view of the stage from wherever they are sat.
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There was an orchestra piece below the stage and the conductor was conducting the band and the actors. We were sat Just in front of the stage in Row B in the stalls. We had an amazing view of the stage; we had a great view and got to experience the show in a different light. The play begins with showing the audience how the play will end, with the death of the two brothers; Mackey and Eddie. Mrs. Johnston is stood around her two dead sons who are placed parallel to one another in the middle of the stage covered in red blankets which could be a connotation of death then the opening song begins.
The narrator begins to tell the story of what happened to the twins. The narrator opens the play with the first line which immediately drew me into the play and I was interested instantly and he cropped up in many scenes which were quite scary as I wasn’t expecting this to happen. The first character to speak was the narrator which was played by Marti Fellow. The narrator is used to guide the audience through the play. In Blood Brothers the narrator is very important as the narrator acts as the conscience of many of the on stage characters in particular Mrs. Johnston.
The narrator was useful as it guided people who were watching the performance for the first time and gave additional information regarding the play and the action happening. The narrator wasn’t co-operating in the action of the play, as the narrator acted as an outsider. The narrator influenced the decisions the mothers made as he was a part of their conscience. The narrator would appear on stage randomly and watch the different characters from the windows in the set. This was an effective use of levels as it could symbolism that he was in fact something indifferent which would linger and impact different choices.
As I was seated at the front of the stage I had a clear view of what action was happening. However I felt quite scared when the narrator appeared as I wondered where he came from; although I do believe this added to the mood and atmosphere he was able to create upon appearance. The lighting and music usually changed when he appeared and he would sing songs. The narrator used eye-contact to make his speeches personal to the audience, at one point he looked at me and I felt rather uncomfortable as it showed the seriousness and the angry tone in his voice made me feel part of the performance.
Especially as the narrator played a very questioning and patronizing character. As the narrator wasn’t involved with the on-stage action it was important for him and me as an audience to make a connection. At the end of the play the narrator stands at the front of the stage and asks us as audience members did the death of the twins occur through the idea of superstition or coincidence’ when he asked this I began to question myself to come to a conclusion. After this it then flashed forward to when Mrs. Johnston first Went dancing with Mr. Johnston.
Mrs. Johnston sings a song that explains about her life and the children hat she has had already so her Husband decides to leave her for someone who looked like ‘Marylyn Monroe’. I My favorite character from the performance was Mackey. I liked this character as I thought the way Mackey was portrayed from being a child to and adult included a lot of characterization and technique. As an audience member I could see the age change of Mackey through body language.
This was demonstrated as when Mackey was a child he was very active and always moving around whereas when he progressed to becoming older his posture was slouched which demonstrated he was fed up and depressed. The GE chance could also be seen through vocal , and facial expressions, as when Mackey was 7 ‘nearly 8’ he would use gestures such as sticking a finger up to show he was childish and immature however when he was older he was able to Just say these ‘naughty words’.
I enjoyed Mickey’s character as a child as I believe he brought humor into the piece of drama and the audience was able to communicate with this humor as he was Just a typical low class Lilliputian kid. Characterization is also demonstrated in which the way the boys speak. Eddie speaks with Received Pronunciation whereas Mackey has a strong souse accent. Costume also influenced the characterization of each character. As the play was set in the sass’s the costumes suited the fashion sense of that time however as an audience I was able to tell the different in class to what each character was wearing.
Therefore costume was an important part for addressing the differences in backgrounds. When Mackey was a child he wore passed down clothing which will have been Sammy that had holes in and was far too big. Mackey usually wore these oversized second hand Jumpers which he could stretch over his legs to ‘keep him warm’ his socks were muddy and were in need of a wash. This links to the theme of social class as it shows Mrs. Johnston can’t afford new clothes as she has lots of children, so she has to re-use and pas down clothes to her children.
On the other hand Eddie wears smart, sophisticated clothing and is always well dressed. Eddie likes to keep himself clean and always looks smart for a child of that age which you would expect to get dirty regularly. This suggests that Eddie has been taught to keep his clothes clean and as he is from a well of background they would probably have a cleaner to clean/wash/iron his clothes. As the play progresses and the boys become elder it is still clear that they come from very different backgrounds and are from different social classes. Mrs. Lyons and Mrs. Johnston costumes also reflected the class in which they came from.
Mrs. Johnston was what one would call a house wife and worked from home and cared for her children. This was shown in her costume as she wore a patterned smock which looked like it had seen better days and an apron. On the other hand Mrs. Lyons would wear a tight pencil skirts with a cashmere jumper and a smart blazer. This showed she was rich and of a superior class as she could wear this in the house even though she did not have to go to work. This represents the differences in social class as Mrs. Johnston was unable to purchase new clothes for herself and her children whereas Mrs. Lyons made sure all her family where smartly dressed.
There was music playing throughout the play which came from a live band which was allocated in a pit below the stage which was right in front of me. The bands were directed by a conductor which stood in the centre of the pit. The sound and lighting worked together to set the mood and atmosphere. At moments throughout the play he lights would dim particularly when the audience saw the deaths at the beginning and end of the play and any music would be stopped to create a silence which is needed allow tension to build up and for the audience to think.
Spotlights were also used when the director wanted us to focus on a certain character even though there maybe action in the background for example the body’s being escorted off stage. This was effective as it allows the audience to connect with that character at that moment in time. I thought the set used was very naturalistic as it represented the typical terraced houses of Liverpool in the sass’s. However at some points throughout the performance the vet would become stylized as the bookshelf would come down from above the stage in the Lyons household.
The set was very simple as it was mainly the same all the way through the play however when in the Lyons household, characters would bring the set on for example the dining table and the rug would be placed on the floor. Whereas in Mrs. Johnston home only a small kitchen would be placed on stage this representing Mrs. Johnston is a homely mother who spends most of her time in the kitchen. Mrs. Lyons home took p a vast amount of the stage this demonstrating her large house compared to Mrs. Johnston house which took a small corner of the stage.
This demonstrated the size different of the houses which symbolizes their wealth and what they both had to show for it. Towards the end of the play when the boys find out they are twins and are about to both get shot. Police officers are positioned amongst the audience in the stalls. I was rather shocked to find a police officer stood behind me with a gun and I became scared and nervous as I was unaware of what was to happen. Although I felt part of he action as I was in direct view of the actors on stage and they were looking in my direction.
Doing this helped increase the tension in the dramatic energy which was created in the room and really made the experience more exciting . One issue Seen in the play is that of depression and guns. At the age of 7 Mackey was already introduced to guns and he played with a toy gun. By the age of 14 Mackey had an air gun in which he used to practice shooting. When Mackey was older he used a real gun to help Sammy. At the end of the play they were killed by real guns this issue could be seen as a link to their death.
As we know Mrs. Johnston was a very suspicious woman and Mrs. Lyons made her swear on the bible that “if either twin find out they were one off pair, they will immediately die. ” When the twins find this out they die instantly so this then questions was it superstition that ill k De the Johnston twins or was it coincidence. Overall I thought the performance of blood brothers was a great success and it had indeed a well deserved standing ovation. The play was not only funny yet serious I felt as though I could connect with the one stage characters and I was always interested. It was a great performance, not one to miss!