Now playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage, Blood Brothers is a tale of nature vs nurture told in a musical retelling of the Alexandre Dumas tale, The Corsican Brothers. Set initially in the working class industrial slums of 1960’s Liverpool the first act centers around single-mother of 7, Mrs Johnstone who, barely able to feed her family, works as a cleaner for the wealthy but childless, Mr & Mrs Lyons. Finding out she is pregnant with twins, she is distraught at the prospect of two more mouths to feed, so reluctantly she agrees to secretly give one twin away to Mrs Lyons. This begins the diverse upbringing of the two boys, one in poverty, the other in privilege. However, different their circumstances they still manage to find each other and become “blood brothers” and best friends. Their live intertwine for the next 20 years until they meet a tragic and fateful demise brought about by their mothers; one in an attempt to separate them and the other to bond them.
The Willy Russell musical was first brought to the stage in London in 1983 when the poverty of 60’s and recession of the 80’s, as represented in the play, were still fresh in people’s memories. This production’s stage design well represent these eras and the cast do a valiant job of keeping their accents authentic to the region and class. Leads Terra C. MacLeod as Mrs Johnstone and John Mann (Spirit of the West) as Narrator provide anchors to the production, each contributing strong vocals and presence when onstage, which is most of the time. Adam Charles and Shane Snow play separated twins Eddie Lyons and Mickey Johnstone both doing capable jobs as they age from 7 to 20. With the entire cast made up of just 12 players they almost all do double duty playing multiple parts of the ensemble. While the staging and eras are no longer up to date the story is timeless and told in a timeless manner and provides an enjoyable evening out.
Blood Brothers runs until December 31, 2011 at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone 604.687.1644