Another theme I decided to look at was superstition. Early on in the play Mrs. Johnston goes mad when she sees shoes on the table. This superstition reveals that Mrs. Johnston is very superstitious and can be controlled by her beliefs. Mrs. Lyons takes advantage of this when she finds out Mrs. Johnston has exactly what she wants. When Mrs. Lyons finally gets one of the twins, she uses superstition against Mrs. Johnston instantly. She says, “If either twin learns he was one of pair they shall both die immediately… You won’t tell anyone, Mrs. Johnston, because if you do you shall kill them!” Mrs. Johnston gets tied up in the whole thought of killing her twins, so she does her best not to tell anyone.
Throughout the play the narrator comes on to remind the audience of the superstitions and to create the atmosphere that something bad is going to happens. By doing this, the narrator makes the end seem inevitable – he makes it seem like fate. Superstitions are used to show how characters in the play are controlled and don’t take responsibility for their decisions. Mrs. Johnston is easily manipulated by Mrs. Lyons’ who is able to use Mrs. Johnston’s superstition fears against her; because Mrs. Johnston’s beliefs are so strong, she is weak and vulnerable. The end of the play is unrealistic to show the audience that the characters don’t die because of fate. They die because one mother is manipulative and mad and the other is weak; it is not superstition which controls the fate of humans, but rather humans who use superstition to control fate, ironically an aspect of Mrs. Lyons’ life which leads to the final tragedy of the play.
Mr. Russell, have you seen the West End musical version of your play recently? What do you think of it? Of course I’ve seen the West End musical version! I’m very pleased with the way it turned out – the music added another dimension to the play, and made it more emotional for the audience (something the original Blood Brothers cannot do). The original playscript of Blood Brothers does not feature all of the scenes included in the West End version. Without the extra scenes the play would not last a very long time on the stage.
I wanted my audience to have something to remember, so several extra scenes were incorporated including a scene where Mickey and his brother Sammy are threatening a bus driver with a knife. Along with many other scenes, these additions extend the play and give the audience more to think about. By bringing Sammy more of the action, another main character is developed, creating another element for the audience to think about.
The West End musical version is much longer than the original because I wanted the audience to be more involved with the characters’ lives and with the themes of the play. I wanted the audience to have a clearer understanding of the story, and have a better idea of its complexities so they interpret the play from different perspectives. Overall I am pleased with the West End version, and I’d like to think of it as a superb addition to the original. The West End version remains strong in my heart, as it has done for its twenty years as a production. I hope to see more people watch the West End version, but also to read the original. I am delighted to be invited onto the program.