Concept Players: Blood Brothers

By Willy Russell

The Director Shane jumped at the chance to do this iconic play. It was to be only Concept Players' third foray into the land of the straight play. The others being Henry V and And Then There Were None. Shane's vision was one of paired back simplicity. Which everyone knows, takes effort to pull off.

His concept was one of a bunch of people coming across a disused theatre and putting on the play with what they found. What was particularly effective was the use of the blank scenery which the cast were able to write upon using chalk - much like in the school rooms of the past. This meant a build up of exciting transitions as the cast wrote on these walls. Another conceit was the fact that the cast remained on stage and watched the action from the sideline. This added another layer of interest.

The acting was superb. All worked together and there was a real feeling of camaraderie that came across the footlights. Nerys Rees as our newest member gave a feisty performance as the downtrodden Mrs Johnstone. As the mother who has to make the decision of a lifetime she was immensely believable and the audience were gripped by her emotions. Her counterpart, Mrs Lyons, was coolly played by Cathryn Rose who showed her versatility as she descended into madness. Richard and Stephen as Mickey and Eddie stole the show of course particularly with the scenes they played alongside their childhood friend Linda, played by Fern. Richard's Mickey was cheeky and confident, and his difficult passage into adulthood and beyond was a very powerful performance. Steve as Eddie, the posh boy was endearing and charming, and the bewilderment as his relationship with Mickey disintegrated later in the play, was pitch perfect. Fern at the centre of the adult relationships was gutsy and yet portrayed the part with the a pathos than really came across as the hopelessness of the situation enveloped her. The play of course is pulled together by the Narrator and this device worked well with Chris mastering that tricky Liverpudlian accent with all those rhyming couplets.

A slickly paced show which with the help of the Producer, Paul, and technical support - Laura on sound (ensuring excellent musical transitions) and Kevin on lights (giving the nuanced atmosphere) ensured this play had the right balance of pathos and cheer, light and dark, and left the audiences and the cast emotional wreaks each night.


The simple setting put the play at the forefront

The cast just before the end

The cast were visible even when not playing their parts, watching from the sidelines