There was little doubt in my mind that Bath University Student Theatres (BUST) production of the comedy-tragedy Blood Brothers would be a unequivocal success. Besides the genius associated with the Willy Russell play turned musical, we were presented with a highly-capable cast performing in Baths most intimate venue, the Museum of Bath at Work. I was little surprised that this combination provided a show which was all but flawless.
Set in the paradoxical world of 1960’s Liverpool, Blood Brothers tells the story of a mother, played with inexpressible emotional depth by Becky Moreton, forced to give up one of her twins due to abject poverty. As one brother is given to her wealthy employer, the other is left to endure the hardships of working-class life. When the two are reunited, ghosts from the past slowly emerge, and ‘blood brothers’ are forced to accept the manifested boundaries between each other.
With his simpering portrayal of the show’s ‘nurtured’ brother Edward, Ben Atkinson perfectly delivers some of the play’s more humorous lines. Beside him is Felix Newman, playing his roughened brother Mickey, the undisputed star, who quite simply sets the benchmark for student theatre. Together, the two prove how important it is for real ‘chemistry’ to transcend to the stage. They don’t just bounce off each other, they rely on each other; a superb, hilariously tragic relationship which far exceeds the expectations of ‘amateur’ theatre.
Impressively, the brothers do not carry the show. Whilst the first act was sometimes difficult for the supporting cast to demonstrate their acting prowess, the second allows both Lex Bradshaw (portraying Linda, the brother’s love interest) and Emily Carter (as Mrs Lyons, Edward’s adoptive mother), to encapsulate the audience as two women haunted by their past choices. Charles Craven, as Mickey’s elder brother, makes his presence fiercely felt despite a minor role.
Yet it is the ability of the cast to drift so seamlessly from the genuinely laugh out loud funny to the spine-chillingly cold which lands the greatest blow. Guided by the show’s narrators, played eerily by Ethan Duffy and Annayah Prosser) the audience is made part of the characters gradual decline to depravity. It is this which makes Blood Brothers so enjoyable.
Unfortunately, the show has sold out. It would have been a shame if it hadn’t. And sadly, it is difficult to imagine BUST putting on something better than this.
Tickets for Blood Brothers are sold out, but BUST and the Bath University Student Musical Society will be holding more productions throughout the year with Show in a Week taking part next week.