Set in the 1960s, Blood Brothers tell the tale of two boys (played by Felix Newman and Ben Atkinson) separated at birth after their mother is unable to support them both. Whilst one brother is raised in the impoverished background of his birth, the other is adopted by a wealthy women who hands him a privileged upbringing. The two meet by coincidence later on becoming best friends and ‘blood brothers’ in the process. The story then follows them as they get older, detailing their relationship and its gradual deterioration.
Bath University Student Theatre (BUST) are doing a production of the tale and bathimpact went to a rehearsal to catch up with the two directors, Jemima McLean and Janna Chapman, to talk about what we can expect from the performance.
Why did you decide to choose this play?
Janna Chapman: It is obviously a very well-known story, whether you know the play or the musical. It will hopefully appeal to a lot of people with its diverse themes and humour. It’s a play I know that I have loved since a very young age.
Jemima McLean: Yea, me too. It’s a really funny play, but doesn’t stray from being incredibly impacting.
Which one of those themes do you think most encapsulates audiences?
JC: The trade-off between humour and tragedy almost. For much of the play, especially when the ‘blood brothers’ come on, there is this energy which is really amusing, but when the tragedy does come out they play so beautifully together.
JM: The two had been ‘brothers’ before in another production. We didn’t know that when we did the casting, but when they’re on stage they have such a phenomenal relationship.
Who else should we watch out for during the show?
JM: I think Becky Moreton, who plays Mrs Johnson – the boys birth mother – comes out really strong and she has quite a depth to her as an actress and you find yourself getting more and more attached to her. There’s also Charles Craven who plays Danny – their brother – and he’s really good too. It’s a small role, but a very impacting one.
How are they finding balancing the comedy with tragedy?
JC: I think the humour breaks the tragedy up…
JM: especially for the boys, who have a lot of comedy early on. There’s a lot of really funny scenes nearer the beginning, but breaking this up are the horrendous choices their mother has to make which only worsens as the play goes on.
JC: We have the narrators almost haunting the boys as she gradually goes mad. We are using our own methods, including puppetry, to almost visualise and empathise this madness.
Interesting. So you’re planning your own unique twist on this play?
JC: We hope so. We’re approaching with a lot of naturalistic and physical theatre. We’re trying to draw from more obscure practitioners of theatre, hopefully moving away from the more traditional approach done on this particular production. Hopefully it will be a different play for those who have seen it before.
JM: Exactly, it’s the same play but with a few added twists.
Blood Brothers will show at the Museum of Bath at Work from 16th October until the 18th. Tickets cost £5 for students and are available through the ICIA website.