Blood Brothers Essay
‘Blood Brothers’ is a play that is so dramatic it made me change my emotions form happy to sad in the space of 5 minutes. It highlights the differences between the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ classes and covers the terrible dilemma of a mother who gives one twin away to another person who lives up the road, of a much higher class. It makes me wonder what I would do if I were in that situation. The emotions portrayed in the play are much more intense than those within the book. I think it was a good idea for us to have studied the play in class as we read through it and acted it out. This gave us a very good idea of what to expect within the performance at the theatre. While studying the play we looked at freeze frames and even produced a piece of coursework on one we did where we showed the deaths of both Mickey and Eddie and interpreted it in our own way.
We also focused a lot on characterisation and really looked at trying to portray the emotions of the characters through our body language, facial expressions, proxemics, and movement. I feel this really helped when we went to go and see it as it made me focus on how the characters are portraying there emotions to the audience and how my way of showing the same emotion was done differently through a different character.
Having heard the songs before and listened carefully to the words, made it much more emotional within the performance and really helped me understand the story and try and get inside the characters heads. The songs gave away a lot about the characters and also related the events happening with other things that have happened in the past. I really did enjoy going to see it, it made me realise how dramatic the play actually was. From reading the book it was easy to tell the storyline was dramatic, but from watching it made it so much more than just dramatic. The performances on stage were brilliant and had such emotion and feeling from each of the characters.
The production is set in Liverpool and was written in the 1980s. Willy Russell uses the play to show how different levels of class can have a huge effect on people’s lives and chances in life. Mickey was kept by his mum but grew up in a lower class family and his lifestyle was always limited. He lived in a council house and had a poor education while he was growing up. Meanwhile Eddie his twin brother was given away and brought up by a middle class family and went on to a high education and he was the one who got the better job as a result. The conflict between the two classes was very significant and I think Willy Russell portrayed it very well as the two boys from completely different classes became best friends and he showed the difference in classes right from the beginning when they first meet all the way up until they were grown men.
The way in which he raised honesty as an important issue within the play was very well done and told so much about the story and how it was all going to end. The way in which he keeps the secret about the boys throughout the whole play and they do not have a clue they are twins is just so dramatic as when they do find out within 2 seconds they are both dead. It leaves the other characters in belief that it was fate and this was all going to happen no matter what. I think the narrator is such an important character throughout the play as he watches everything fall into place and builds the tension up within the other characters throughout the play. In my view the narrator was the one who made everything happen, because every time a character did something drastic he was always there and they always looked at him just before anything happened.
Mickey’s social class is portrayed in this play through many different acting skills. His language used and his accent shows he was brought up in a lower class family with not much discipline. His actions also suggest he has not yet learnt write from wrong and needs a push in the write direction but the audience knows it will not happen as the surroundings and people he is growing up with are just like him. The way in which he interacts with others for example when he first meets Eddie illustrates the fact that he doesn’t see Eddie as someone with a bigger authority or who is in a different class to him, but treats him just the same.
The soon changes throughout the play and is shown by the way Mickey ends up wanting to be Eddie because he can see that Eddie has a better life. Although Mickey is in a lower class to Eddie, Mickey has much more awareness to the real world than Eddie does. This is shown by the way Mickey learns more about sex and other issues at a younger age than Eddie. Also Mickey grows up a lot quicker than Eddie and starts thinking about responsibilities and building a life while Eddie is still a young boy at heart who just wants to have fun all the time and stay a teenager.
Mickey and Linda’s relationship starts of with them just being kids and close friends, but then Mickey realises Linda loves him and he cant handle the fact that his childhood friend Linda who he used to throw rocks with and play his air pistol with is falling all over him, he shows his discomfort to this situation by blocking her out and never saying what he really feels. But he also knows he really likes her but doesn’t want Linda to find out. When Mickey starts outlining his appearance this shows he is not dealing with puberty and he compares himself to Eddie but he doesn’t know that Linda loves him and only sees his good qualities and looks past his bad ones. As Mickey and Linda grow up they eventually start going out and later on get married and have a child.
Mrs Lyons is first portrayed as a rich snob who looks down on anyone that is a lower class than she is. Unfortunately she cannot have children but her maid, Mrs Johnstone cant stop having them. This gives Mrs Lyons the perfect opportunity to raise a child as her own so her views of Mrs Johnstone soon change and she now looks up to her in hope of a child. The way Mrs Lyons gets Mrs Johnstone to agree to this, is by offering her money something Mrs Johnstone does not have much of but Mrs Lyons has plenty. She makes Mrs Johnstone see how wonderful her life would be with more money and how her child would grow up better than she thought. By offering Mrs Johnstone money Mrs Lyons is still portraying her authority over Mrs Johnstone, as she knows that Mrs Johnstone will not be able to resist because she needs the money.
Mrs Lyons language that is used is much more complex than Mrs Johnstone, and her accent is completely different Mrs Johnstone’s. This also portrays the levels of class and shows the audience just who has more power over who. Because Mrs Lyons has a much wider spread vocabulary selection she can easily persuade Mrs Johnstone to do just what she wants. As Mrs Lyons idea about her having her own child progresses her facial expressions and gestures are much more aware to everyone in the audience who are concentrating on just how much this means to her. As soon as Mrs Johnstone has had her twins, Mrs Lyons is straight away in her face attempting to get her baby.
But Mrs Johnstone’s change of heart make Mrs Lyons that much more eager to have one and tells her that she swore on the bible and if someone finds out about this she will be in a lot of trouble. And warns her that if she tells either child he was once a twin something bad will happen, ‘ they say that if either twin learns that he once was a pair, they shall both immediately die, this means that they are going to grow up unaware of the others existence’. This is where the fear of Mrs Johnstone’s superstition is added to the plot. As Edward Lyons grows up, Mrs Lyons fears of what she never wants to happen seem as if they are which turns her into a growing mad woman.
Happenings start to evolve around the superstitious nature. It begins to affect the play, as the characters start to behave differently. Mrs Lyons is now haunted by the superstition and it ruins her life as she approaches a mental breakdown which the change in her behaviour is effected by the superstition of having a sold child. As Edward and Mickey grow up and become friends again, when they are older, this tips Mrs Lyons over the edge as she finds a locket with which contains a picture of Mickey and Mrs Johnstone inside which belongs to Edward. The thought of Mrs Johnstone giving her son Edward this sends Mrs Lyons into a panic and she just lashes out at Mrs Johnstone. The affect this has on the up coming events is just undescribable and she is to blame for the brothers to find out who they really are.
This play is a fast pace performance and has quick scene changes, which sets of the play very nicely. Because there are quick scene changes you are able to see just how different the surroundings for the scenery for the Lyons house and the street in which The Johnstones live are. Because there isnt any scenery for inside of Mrs Johnstones house I think it is a very important detail that all they need is the surroundings outside there house just to see the difference of being in a lower class family is to the scenery of The Lyons house which is a middle class family in a nice house. You can tell the diffference in social class straight away with just the scenery in place never mind the acting.
The street has graffetee everywhere broken glass in the windows and just portrays this image of a bunch of kids that hang around there with no respect for the place in which they live. But The Lyons house shows a nice big sofa, a table, very spacious rooms and a very nice family feel to the environment. When the families move to the country side theres a much clearer image that the move was good as there are views of fields and there isnt as much pollution and there is much more space to run around and play. I think the scenery plays a big part in the performance as it gives you an idea of the surroundings and how people react when they are placed somewhere they are not used to.
The style of the music was superb, the way the tone and pitch of the music changed to what was happening on the stage was perfect timing. Also before I had seen the play I was wondering why Willy Russell thought so thouroughlly about the effect the music had on the actuall performance and after I had seen it I knew exactly why he chose the style of songs and words for the songs to be sang at each part of the pley. The music summed up most of the play. The style of music in some songs changed from an up beat happy song to a deeper more depressing song in a matter of minutes, I thought the idea of this was brilliant and you could really tell how the music effected the performers on stage.
The band was situated of stage which I found dissapointing as in other theatres I had been told the band was on stage hidden by scenery but you could still see it which I think would of made the music more affective. And it would have been more of a part of the play if the band was on stage. Although the band was of stage you could still see them in front of the stage facing it. I thought the way the characters moved from speaking to singing was so clever as you could never tell when they were going to break out in song. I really liked the use of the soft music playing in the background while someone was speaking and then just a line was sung and then it went back to the character speaking again. That idea made me really focus on the importance of that one line that had to be sung. The loud music on the fast pace killing scenes was brilliant, I loved it. It really made me feel like I was involved with the action going on and also made the atmosphere a lot more tense.
The costumes within the play are very significant to the character being played. Mickey always wore ripped, dirty clothes that didn’t look like they fitted him, whilst Eddie was always smartly drest with his shirt tucked in to his trousers and his clothes were always clean and also looked as if they had been ironed. The costumes clearly establish time, age and economic circumstance. The styles of the clothes show that this play must have been set in the early 80’s, as this was the fashion back then. Mrs Lyons and Mrs Johnstone had a very different sense of fashion within the play.
Mrs Lyons usually wore nice fitted suits that looked like they would of cost her a quite a bit of money, whilst Mrs Johnstone usually wore tatty flowery dresses, with stains over them and the colour looked as if it had been drained out of them. Linda usually wore really little amounts of clothing, as she was out to impress Mickey, and needed her character to look good in the clothes she wore but to also to show how much she really liked Mickey. Linda’s wardrobe I think really reflected her personality and social status. It portrayed the life she was living as all the girls in her estate probably wore similar clothes. But if she were from a middle class family she would probably be wearing long skirts down to her ankles, or pretty dresses that made her look sweet.
Through the course of this learning scheme we have been focusing on key moments in the play. The freeze frame at the beginning and also repeated at the end is a significant moment I think in the play. It sums up a lot about the characters and also tells a story without any movement or sound. In class we were told to remake this freeze frame as our own and interperate it how we wanted to. I think we did this really well and even though it was a lot different to the freeze frame performed at the theatre it was still very imaginative and a well thought out piece. When we went and watched the performance the way they showed this particular moment was I thought very well done, it had Mrs Johnstone in between her two sons who are lying on the floor dead and she had placed there hands together with hers and I think that is just a lovely way of showing the tragedy which has just occurred.
This sets the tone for the rest of the play by showing what things are going to make this happen and how fate is going to play itself for the upcoming events. Throughout the performance all I could think about while the play was progressing was there’s no hope its all going to end badly anyway. Although some people may think this isn’t very effective as you know what’s going to happen and the element of surprise is sometimes much better. But not in this play because everything that happens you know in the back of your head it is happening for a reason and you notice the mistakes the characters are making for the story to be told. Also every time there is a decision made or something occurs that you know shouldn’t, you are sitting at the edge of your seat just wanting to shout out ‘Stop, no don’t do that!’ But it happens anyway and you know exactly why.
After seeing this play I fell in love with all the characters even the bad ones and just wanted to be able to get up and start acting on there with them. I thought it was the most thought provoking play I had ever watched and I really didn’t want it to end. The way it was performed was just phenomenal, I really felt as if I was inside each of the characters heads and I knew how they were feeling. I felt very attached to each of the characters as I had sat there and invested my time and energy into following these characters since they were seven years old.
The simple, witty lyrics and light hearted scenes just draws you into the world of the families portrayed, and pulls you into a false sense of security which is then rapidly twisted in the second half to be made as a tragedy. I loved the way the adult actors played seven year olds they produced such lovely scenes and it added to the comedy of the play, which made the ending even more shattering than expected. I was so impressed when saw Anthony Costa from blue, playing Mickey in this production he was amazing at it and I think he added to the performance shown. The opportunity to go and watch this performance I think was fantastic. I have learnt a lot about the play and it has really helped me understand the characters within the play.