Thursday, September 21

Blood Brothers – Hull New Theatre

When, in a packed theatre, every member of the audience rises to their feet, as one, the nano-second a production ends, then you know you have witnessed something very special.

That was the scene on Tuesday evening, when the legendary Blood Brothers came to Hull New Theatre.

Set in Liverpool, it tells of twins, separated at birth – one staying with his impoverished birth mother and the other going to a well-off family, desperate for a child.

The twins’ mum, Mrs Johnstone (Niki Colwell Evans), works as a cleaner for Mrs Lyons (Sarah Jane Buckley), who, with her husband, Mr Lyons (Tim Churchill) is desperate for a child.

Hearing that Mrs Johnstone is expecting twins, Mrs Lyons pays Mrs J £50, getting her to swear on the Bible that one of the babies will be handed over at birth.

Mr Lyons is away on business for nine months, so it is easy for his wife to pretend she was unknowingly pregnant just before he left.

At the handover, Mrs Johnstone can’t bear to see which twin Mrs Lyons took, but she’d accepted the £50 – which turned out to be blood money in more ways than one.

Fast forward seven, nearly eight, years and both boys are growing up on opposite sides of the tracks. Mickey (Sean Jones) stays in poverty with his mum and seven siblings, while Eddie (Joe Sleight) wants for nothing with Mr and Mrs Lyons.

Jones portrayed young Mickey with such enthusiasm, joy, cheek, naughtiness and cuteness, it was hard to believe he wasn’t seven; while Sleight’s Eddie was the perfect opposite – well-behaved with a clean school uniform, pulled-up socks and neatly-combed hair, plus a very nice speaking voice.

Accidentally meeting up, the two instantly gel and pledge their loyalty to each other by joining their cut fingers to become the blood brothers of the show’s title.

Mickey’s playmate, Linda (Gemma Brodrick), plays a huge role in both boys’ lives, ending up married to one of them. But which one?

Narrator, Danny Whitehead, kept us on the edge of our seats throughout, with his dramatic tones. Equally dramatic was the lighting and jump-out-of-your-skin sounds which included the megaphone-wielding “policeman” who materialised right next to my aisle seat.

And even though I’ve seen Blood Brothers before, I was still shocked at what transpires at the end.

Of course, musicals need musicians, and a very talented band played their hearts out from within the orchestra pit with well-known hits such as Marilyn Monroe, Tell Me It’s Not True and Easy Terms being just three of the songs tunefully sung by this super-talented cast.

The stage setting very rarely changed yet cleverly managed to show all scenarios with realism and authenticity.

But it was the amazing acting that was the icing on the theatrical cake. I couldn’t fault anyone’s performance, but Evans as Mrs Johnstone and Jones as her son, Mickey, were outstanding. My heart ached for Mrs J and her predicament, and for Mickey’s spiral into depression – boy did the brilliant Jones wring every emotion out of us in the spell-bound audience.

Taking their many bows, it was obvious this talented cast were themselves emotionally drained by what they had just performed, and it took at least four curtain calls before their faces relaxed into smiles. Bravo to all concerned.

Running until Saturday, July 22nd, 2023; 7.30pm nightly with 2.30pm matinees on Wednesday, 19th, Thursday, 20th and Saturday, 22nd. Tickets cost from £18. Call (01482) 300306 or visit

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 18th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.