Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 27 Oct
There’s no flying car, singing animals or pyrotechnics, yet Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, which explores class, poverty and unemployment, remains one of our longest running musicals.
Just in case you haven’t heard the story, the impoverished Mrs Johnstone (Vivienne Carlyle, standing in for Linda Nolan) is persuaded to give one of her twins to her rich, childless employer, Mrs Lyons (Caroline Hartley). Alas, as the twins (Antony Costa and Simon Willmont) grow up and find each other, they affirm their status as blood brothers and of course can’t possibly live happily ever after.
Willy Russell’s 1960s Liverpudlian drama is an absorbing mix of love, comedy, relationships and, ultimately, tragedy. Costa’s turn as Mickey, from exuberant child to depressed adult is surprisingly sincere, though his singing is noticeably mediocre. Around him a consistently strong cast belt through the numbers with Carlyle’s ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ a predictable, yet well-deserved show stopper. Overall, this is an energetic and emotional performance of this modern classic.