Review: Blood Brothers at Broadway Theatre, Peterborough

Blood Brothers.

Blood Brothers.

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Lyn Paul found fame in the seventies when she wanted “to teach the world to sing”.

Well she can teach them a thing or two about acting too after a memorable performance as Mrs Johnstone in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers which opened last night (Tuesday) at Peterborough’s Broadway Theatre.

She plays the iconic Mrs Johnstone, and shoulders the burden of being labelled the “definitive” Mrs J very, very well.

Her voice has a wonderful tone and carries just the right amount of emotion the songs deserve. The constant reprise of” Marilyn Monroe” was a joy and the tearful, emotionally charged “Tell Me It’s Not True”, which brings the curtain down on the piece, was rightfully rewarded with a rapturous standing ovation.

She stands out in what it has to be said is a talented cast as the downtrodden, single mum “living on the never never” who out of desperation - and with a little cajoling - secretly gives up one of her newborn twin boys to her posh employer, the childless Mrs Lyons (Paula Tappenden)

The downward spiral from barren housewife, overjoyed at the thought of having a child, to a woman riddled with guilt and haunted by the secret from her past is well played out.

Her transformation is only bettered by that of Mickey (Sean Jones), the happy-go-lucky, cheeky scallywag who likes nothing more than spitting, riding his imaginary horse and playing cowboys and indians without a care in the world. His shuffling, broken, grown-up Mickey - out of work, out of jail and dependant on drugs - is breathtakingly masterful.

It is a tragi-comedy, and there are a lot of laughs, mostly schoolboy humour from the young Mickey. The tragedy comes later after he befriends Eddie, the rather awkward rich kid from the big house near the park. superbly played by Joel Benedict. They unwittingly declare themselves blood brothers - not knowing they are twins - grow up and grow apart with tragic consequences.

There is plety of support too. I loved the mannerisms and body language of Sammy, the naughty big brother who turns out to be a wrong ‘un (Peter Washington) and Danielle Corlass as Linda - a great flirty teenager with a crush on Mickey and later his young bride left to pick up the pieces as his whole world comes crashing down .

The dimming of the lights and the introduction of eerie music simply add to the air of menace supplied by Kris Harding, the chest-puffed-out, all-knowing black suited Narrator, who has a great presence on stage throughout.

Blood Brothers runs until Saturday, January 16. Contact the box office for tickets on 01733 822225.