Theatre and book reviews by Janice Dempsey
This production does everything perfectly. Lyn Paul, who played the demanding rôle of Mrs Johnstone in the play’s West End run in 1997 and for the past 20 years has taken it up again and again, is absolutely stunning. Her singing is flawless, her presence moving.
Sean Jones’ performance as Mickey is memorable for portraying so sensitively a vulnerable character gradually reduced by circumstances, as the charm, humour and enthusiasm of Mickey’s child-self in the first act is replaced by despair and emotional paralysis in the second.
The narrator, Dean Chisnall, is a powerful figure, part Kismet, part undertaker, part nightclub bouncer, part fixer, perhaps part demon, lurking to watch as the drama plays out. His commentaries, sung or menacingly intoned, are essential to the sense of inevitability that hangs over the story as it unfolds.
Alison Crawford is Linda, and she beautifully inhabits the character from a skinny child of eight through teenage vamp to despairing young wife and mother. There is not a weak performance in the whole cast.
The set worked perfectly, the scene changes were seamless. The music was wonderful, from the menacing drum phrase that sounded like “Eastenders” before that soap was conceived, to the haunting song of “Marilyn Monroe”, the bitter “Easy Terms” and the threatening theme of “Shoes Upon the Table”.
The New Victoria was packed, with people of all ages. There were few dry eyes as we stood for five curtain calls. We left with the message and the songs ringing in our ears and minds. Blood Brothers is a musical to revisit, however often you’ve seen it before.
This review has also been published on the theatre page of Essential Surrey online magazine this week. "B;ood Brothers" is at the New Victoria Theatre until 21st January.