Reviews

Blood Brother was one of the most popular British musicals of all time. Written by playwright Willy Russell and brought to the London stage in 1988, reviewers consistently praised the musical. Below are some of these Blood Brothers reviews by the critics.

 

“The music soared, the tiny audience and committed cast laughed and cried together. Very special. Highly recommended.”
Phil Willmott at the BBC

 

“The show rings out as a rich, detailed and desperately moving piece of work.”
Fiona Mountford at the Evening Standard

 

 

“Above all this is a very human story about love, friendship and the things that can go wrong when the truth isn’t told – and one of those shows that should be seen by everyone with a beating heart.”
Louise Kingsley at TNT Magazine

 

 

Our Review

Blood Brothers is one of the most successful musicals of the last 25 years and continues to draw audiences from far and wide.

The 3-hour show tells the tale of two brothers, separated at birth, who find serendipity drawing them back together in adulthood. As they grow older, leading ostensibly separate lives, they begin to gravitate back towards each other, until they eventually become friends. However, the touching story of unconditional and instinctive brotherly love is tarnished forever by tragedy.

Set in Liverpool in post-war 1960s Britain, it follows the journeys of “Eddie” and “Micky” as they grow up in contrasting worlds, having been separated by their mother who could not afford to keep them both This forces her to give Eddie away to her wealthy boss who is unable to bear her own children.

The protagonists of the play are Stephen Palfreman and Simon Willmont. Palfreman is a veteran of the show, having played the role of “Micky” for several years in the UK and beyond (including alongside David Cassidy in the Canadian version of Blood Brothers. The most impressive aspect of Palfreman’s performance is his ability to convincingly portray a 7-year-old child all the way up to adulthood, and it is testament to both his acting abilities and the judgement of the show’s producers that they trusted him with this daunting task. Willmont, meanwhile, also gives a sterling performance as “Eddie” – his portrayal of a quintessential English schoolboy toff being pitch-perfect.

As for the female performers, the main role of the twins’ birth mother is played by Maureen Nolan – and yes she is one of the sisters. Her character is perhaps the most emotionally charged in the entire play, as she endures the pain that comes with being forced to give a child away. Other notable female performances include that of Vivienne Carlyle playing “Mrs Lyons”, Eddie’s rich adopted-mother. Her success in conveying the anguish suffered by a woman unable to have her own children is indicative of her acting – not to mention her impressive vocal – range.

Finally, mentions must go to Louise Clayton for her role as “Linda”, who found herself as the rope in a game of tug and wore between the two brothers, and Philip Stewart for his incessantly sinister narrative voice, playing the devil on Mrs Lyons shoulder.

However, whilst this is unquestionably an accomplished and entertaining musical, it is not quite perfect. The lack of a live orchestra is disappointing to those who have come to expect one in a large-scale musical. There is also too much repletion, with the song ‘Marilyn Monroe’ played so many times that you find yourself humming it to yourself long after you get home – normally an endearing legacy, but on this occasion simply a consequence of overkill.

On the whole I would strongly recommend Blood Brothers for a fun and entertaining night out. The story is at once emotionally gripping, funny and heart-rending. A potent combination that serves to captivate its audience and leave them wanting more.

Your Blood Brothers Reviews

Did you seen the show? Please add your own Blood Brothers reviews below.

  • Victoria Scott
    #1 written by Victoria Scott  6 years ago

    this has to be one of the best musicals that i have seen in my life! i would highly recommend people to go see it!

  • Deborah
    #2 written by Deborah  6 years ago

    I have seen Blood Brothers five times. It is one on the gretaest musicals I have ever seen. It never fails to move me. The songs are fantastic. This show has everything, comedy, drama and love. I can’t fault this this show. Every cast has given 120%.

  • Claire Hakett
    #3 written by Claire Hakett  6 years ago

    Absolutely fantastic, the best night Ive ever had without alchohol

  • jacky
    #4 written by jacky  6 years ago

    I saw Blood Brothers for the first time last night – what a brilliant and exceptional performance by all the actors. I laughed and cried the whole way through. You really believe you are watching the cast growing from children to men – incredibly well done from the menacing narrator to the endearing twins to the walk on parts. Funny, sad, poignant, heartbreaking.

  • Katherine
    #5 written by Katherine  6 years ago

    I saw the show for the first time last night – what an emotional rollercoaster! Never have I believed in characters more, or laughed out loud, felt despair and actually cried all within such a short space of time. Congratulations to all the cast – what amazing actors.

  • Dawn
    #6 written by Dawn 6 years ago

    Saw Blood Brothers yesterday as a birthday treat for my husband, what an amazing show laughed, smiled, cried completely loved it. Brilliant cast. Looking for another date to see it again!

  • Fiona in Florence
    #7 written by Fiona in Florence  5 years ago

    I just love Blood Brothers! Willy Russell has created a show that successfully combines comedy with tragedy, superstition with real-life, playing on the theme of “nature v. nurture” with two twins separated at birth and leading very different lives yet feeling a certain “pull” towards one another. Russell manages to get across important issues such as the class system, poverty and unemployment – and all done with the most beautiful music score, much of which will still be playing in your head long after the show is over, especially the “Marilyn Monroe” theme which I think is pure genius! The beautiful Amy Robbins as Mrs Johnstone is outstanding – it is as if the role were written for her. She sings and acts to perfection and I have even seen her cry whilst playing the part! In August 2011 Philip Stewart was wonderful as the narrator and in November we were lucky enough to see Marti Pellow in the role – he played it just as menacingly and has a fabulous voice! Stephen Palfreman was superb as Mickey, but was off sick this time and so we saw a couple of others in the role – so sorry I am not sure who they were since one was apparently drafted in from the touring company last minute – but they were just as wonderful! Simon Willmont excels as Eddie and has the most melodic voice. When he sings “If I Were Him”, it brings shivers down your spine! Louise Clayton as Linda is so convincing that the audience can really feel all the anguish and emotion that she goes through as the friends grow up. indeed, it is a sign of their wonderful acting ability that these performers can portray seven-year-olds as adults! Glaswegian actress and singer Vivienne Carlyle is perfect as the rich and snobby Mrs Lyons and you never even get a hint of her broad Scottish accent during her faultless performance as an English mother unable to have children of her own. A special mention to Michael Southern for his portrayal of older brother Sammy – OUTSTANDING! Many thanks to the orchestra, cast and crew for such wonderful performances – this is one of my favourites and long may this show continue!

  • Louise
    #8 written by Louise  5 years ago

    What a fab show laughed till my ribs ached cried till my heart ached. Saw this performance last night at Sunderland it was fantastic would definatly go again.

  • Amy Bianchi
    #9 written by Amy Bianchi  5 years ago

    Wow. I went to see Blood Brothers last night and it was extremely moving, I was in floods of tears! A very thought provoking and challenging show which deserved the standing ovation it received. The ability and stage presence of actors was phenominal and some incredible voices! Mrs Johnston is definitely a role that I would love to play- hopefully I will be back to watch the show again soon!

  • Adam
    #10 written by Adam  5 years ago

    Not sure if negative reviews are allowed on here, I have seen one that was slightly negative and even that said the show was funny. Wrong.
    I can’t begin to explain how bad I thought that show was. I took my girlfriend to see it tonight for her birthday. Wrong.
    Hopefully I won’t be single tmmrw although I can’t bank on it after putting her through that diatribe.
    To be fair, a lot of people I know and trust told me how amazing this show is and that I must see it. Which is why I feel so confused. What did I miss? The storyline was so weak and childish, simplyfiying elements of life that the writer clearly didn’t have the ability to cover with his writing. Unemployment, depression, friendships, birth, divorce all written and executed like a monkey with a type writer. The music was as bad as it gets, 80s synth blasted out at every possible opportunity. Dreadful jokes, embarrasing scenes everywhere. Just bad.
    Positives – hard work from the cast, they really put in a shift. That’s it. Effort, worth 1 mark out of 10. Wrong

  • Rachel
    #11 written by Rachel  5 years ago

    WOW!
    I went to see Blood Brothers last summer and still have the songs stuck in my head (for a good reason). The cast have such great voices and great acting skills- I think this is probably the best musical I have ever seen. Everyone should see it!!!

  • joanne
    #12 written by joanne  5 years ago

    Went to see this last Wednesday at the Phoenix Theater London…..read all the reviews….got a totally amazing deal…would definitely recommend..had me laughing ,crying, in awe of all the cast…went in the afternoon and to think they had to do it all again later that day….left me drained with all the energy and passion that went into the show…all I can say is WOW and if you get the chance to see this TAKE IT…..make it A ONE TO SEE..Well done to all the cast and crew 29th Feb 2012 3pm..Definitely made the extra day special

  • emily hastings
    #13 written by emily hastings  5 years ago

    i think blood brothers is a very good comedy and show to watch and read , its got a edgy ending which makes you want to watch and read more on there is alot of information on the back of the book which explains most of what happen’s in the show, and gets you exited to carry on reading and get more into it , ive only been reading the book for about 2 weeks now and i feel as if i am atchulley in the story its self, acting .. because its so astonishing.

  • Nadja
    #14 written by Nadja  5 years ago

    Blood Brothers was just an amazing experience. I loved the muscial. The cast sung wonderful and the story is just great. I saw it just a few days ago and I totally fell in love with it :).
    Thanks to all the great people working on that musical 🙂

  • Tom
    #15 written by Tom  5 years ago

    A fantastic performance by all cast members! A show that can be watched over and over again. Highly recommended.

  • Bev
    #16 written by Bev  5 years ago

    This is the fourth time i have seen this show (Saturday 7th April 2012 at the Phoenix theatre) and i promised myself that, this time, i would not cry…..no chance – from the moment Mickey and Eddie become blood brothers i start to cry knowing what is to come. Every time i am totally drawn into the way in which Stephen Palfreman plays Mickey (this is the third time i have seen him in his part) and utterly and completely believe him to be the person he is portraying at each stage of the characters life, the scene when he is trying to get his tablets from Linda has me absolutely sobbing. The whole cast are fantastic but Stephen is ABSOLUTELY AWESOME.

  • Maxxy
    #17 written by Maxxy  5 years ago

    Blood Brothers is a genious do a musical…such a straight forward down to earth story ….hilariously,funny and tragically heartbreaking…can’t praise it enough…mesmerising moving beautiful …

  • Greg
    #18 written by Greg  5 years ago

    Thank God for Adam (#45). My daughter and I just got back from London, where we saw six plays or musicals over eight days, from the Royal Court through the West End and down to the National. Five great evenings and…this. I’ve never felt so out of touch with the rest of humanity in my life. “Blood Brothers” is just dreadful…the awful music; the lame, clunky, unskilled lyrics, with the moronic, senseless references to Marilyn Monroe; the hokey, “intense” Narrator, who bites his lip and squints his eyes before every line, then stares down the “doomed” characters as he passed them by; the feeble rhymes in which he talks, almost like he’s speaking in tongues. My 15-year-old was stifling laughter, and I actually felt bad for the actors for having to be in this thing. When the show ended and the roar came down, we turned to each other in amazement.

    The underlying story is not bad, but could the execution be any more amateurish? Give me one resonant line or one honest moment!

    I’m 48 years old and have been going to the theatre my whole life, and I honestly thought this was one of the two most painful evenings I’ve ever spent in a theatre.

    I will never get what people see in it…

  • John & bea Berkshire
    #19 written by John & bea Berkshire  5 years ago

    Great show me and my wife loved the play so did the audience great acting it’s a play you want to see again and again great day out to west end great deals the only thing negative was the British weather

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