This review has been conducted by a member of the Essential Suffolk team
Regent Theatre, Ipswich, until Saturday May 3
Reviewer: Lesley Rawlinson
Leaving the theatre looking like an extra from an Alice Cooper tribute band wasn’t what I had in mind this evening but, just like most other women in the audience, mascara was streaking down my cheeks as the cast eventually left the stage after their umpteenth curtain call. The show ends as it begins with the death of the Johnstone twins, Mickey & Edward, but the road we’d all travelled to unravel the plot had been clever, comic, dramatic and heart-rending.
Maureen Nolan is the fourth of her siblings – otherwise known as Europe’s first girl band The Nolans – to play the Scouse mother with too many mouths to feed, Mrs Johnstone, in Willy Russell’s moving musical tale of class, circumstance and superstitions. As she poured the haunting lyrics of Tell Me It’s Not True over the bodies of her slain sons the Regent audience was reduced to sobs, each line landing with the truth and force.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Sean Jones (Mickey), Mark Hutchinson (Eddie) and Danielle Corlass (Linda) lead us convincingly through their youth as kindred spirits living their carefree lives as best mates never to be parted. Along with the rest of this highly talented cast they morph before our eyes from seven year old playground buddies through their teenage years until at 18 the story starts to twist its way to its eventual gruesome outcome.
From the outset Kristofer Harding, the Narrator, facilitates the action - underlining every at every turn the gravity of even the smallest of mistakes. As well as an incredible voice the role demands subtle power and even as he lurked in the shadows of the terraced street on which much of the action takes place, we could feel his presence.
I’ve seen a number of touring versions of West End hit musicals and this production of Blood Brothers stands out as one of the very best I’ve seen. Every member of the audience that I could see from my seat was standing throughout the lengthy and well deserved applause tonight and for a Monday night in Ipswich that’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?
For ticket availability and more information on performances visit www.ipswichregent.co.uk