REVIEW: BACstage PRODUCTIONS ‘BLOOD BROTHERS’, THE MALTINGS
THE last few years have seen youth theatre on both sides of the border hit a real purple patch and some of the brightest stars in a sky that’s getting shinier with each show are the students of Berwick Academy, BACstage Productions to be more precise.
The company made a phenomenal first impression with ‘Be My Baby’ last year so I have to admit expectations were high as I took my seat for the opening night of ‘Blood Brothers’.
But any worries of BACstage suffering the theatrical equivalent of ‘the difficult second album’ quickly evaporated.
Emerging from the back of the stage cutting a rather sinister figure, narrator Charlotte Hattle set the scene for what was to be two hours of gripping, well executed drama.
The Willy Russell-penned play focuses on the lives of twins separated at birth when their mother gives one of the boys to her employer.
Bee Dinardo was nothing short of amazing as Mrs Johnston, the woman who was haunted by the demons of her harrowing decision.
For a teenage girl to be able to find the emotional mettle to not only identify with the role but bring it to life in her own way was hugely impressive.
The same critique could be given to Rachel Moffat who as Mrs Lyons had to portray a woman who on the face of things had the perfect life but was wracked with paranoia about the deal that was struck with her one-time employee to give her the child she longed for.
Moving onto the twins themselves, I could easily run out of superlatives for what I thought of Frazer Smiles’ performance. From the playful, naive enthusiasm of a young Mickey to the realistic and bitter man who grew to be, Frazer was brilliant.
Although not required to be quite as flighty as his twin, the subtlety and poise of David Robson’s performance was perfect for the role of Eddie.
As Linda, the girl who ultimately came between the pair, Melissa Steven was too fantastic. Like Mickey, much of Linda’s youthful optimism was sucked out as the plot unfolded, and Melissa was believable both as the happy go lucky school girl and the downtrodden wife she became.
In the same vein as Charlotte, her fellow narrators Liam Mutch and Sarah Rooney made their presence felt with effortless yet cutting delivery of their lines, the majority of which served as a warning to the story’s main protagonists.
A collective shudder rippled through the Henry Travers Studio as the death of Mickey and Eddie gave the talented ensemble the dramatic crescendo they deserved.
The curtain may have come down on the musical version of ‘Blood Brothers’ in London but BACstage Productions proved that songs aren’t needed for a performance to pack a real punch.