The play dates back to the early 1980’s where the original production by Willy Russell was written as a school play and presented in 1981. The play is not a musical as some may think yet in Russell’s own words, ‘a play with music. ‘ The play is set up differently compared to many ‘normal’ plays as it is divided into just two acts and the play starts with the ending at the beginning giving it an unusual and uncanny feel. The play involves two women, one who has many children, Mrs Johnson and the other who is struggling to even get pregnant, Mrs Lyons.
When Mrs Johnson takes up a cleaning job for Mrs Lyons, Mrs Johnson finds out she is pregnant and Mrs Lyons insists that she is to sell one of the twins to her – and no one would ever know; unbeknown to them everything would go wrong. When it comes to think about how Russell maintains audience interest the first major and somewhat bewildering part of the play is the songs as they show a lot of emotion and the repetition of the narrator always being around uses imagery to show that there is always something on the two women’s conscience.
However, Mrs Johnson is to some extent obsessed with Marilyn Monroe and she is mentioned many times in the play – mainly by Mrs Johnson in the songs she sings. “He told me I was sexier than Marilyn Monroe” this shows how Mrs Johnson was intrigued by Monroe’s life and she aspired to be like her. In actual fact observing both Mrs Johnson’s life and that of Monroe there are similarities in the sense of the rise and fall of both of their lives – they both had mountains to overcome.
This idea is repeated many times through the play and Monroe is referred to many times, the audience can make assumptions and connections between Mrs Johnson and Monroe thus they are captivated to continue reading the play to find why Monroe is used and how important her life is to the play. Audience interest would be maintained with this use of character differences because the different classes who are watching the play can all associate with a different person within the play.
From above we can tell that this play is in no way simple as it has a mixture of characters within the Blood Brothers play; there is a clear social hierarchy. Mickey is from the working class and his vocabulary is not as developed as Edwards’ and this is shown in the play when Mickey says, “D’ they call y’ Eddie? ” Mickey uses slang so that the audience can tell he is from a less wealthy family; his words are also abbreviated i. e. ‘D’ and ‘y”.
This helps the audience to relate to Mickey if they come from that sort of background and will maintain their interest in Mickey as a character throughout the play. However, Edward is better spoken in this quote, “That I’ve got halitosis. ” Because Edward can use, understand and worry that Mickey might care about his bad breath relates to his class, as you would expect higher class to fret about their appearance thus the higher class members of the audience have a character to relate to as well. This again helps maintain interest.
Audience interest is important and Russel it seems has made this his main priority. In this play he has played on serious issues that would of affected many different people and at the time people who had experienced these kinds of things would have been able to associate with these parts in the play. So it makes sense that if the audience feels sympathy or even hatred for a member of the play, this is where social and historical context becomes engaging as the play really does relate to what was happening at the time and this is what makes it more impressive.
Social and historical context is a big part of the play as it was set during the times of a working depression in Liverpool with over 25% of the workforce out of work. The audience can also tell that it was set during a hard time with hardly any money changing hands as Mrs Johnson was forced to sell her baby for just i?? 50 to feed the rest of her family. On the social side we can see that Russell does not sympathise with the fathers in the play very much at all and shows that mothers must be strong and he sympathises with them.
Mrs Johnston’s husband leaves her when she gets pregnant and Mrs Lyons husband is always away on business apart from a few appearances. There are many quotes to back up Russell’s possible dislike for the father figure; it’s not for sure that he had this view but from the absence of the fathers this is a conclusion that can be drawn up. This is a quote said by Mrs Johnston, going against fathers/husbands, “Me husband he walked out on me. ” This quote backs up Russell’s possible disgust for fathers and shows that he is more interested in motherhood as most of the play is based on the different childhood’s that each of the children have.
This helps maintain women’s interest in the audience, both mothers and ones without children, as like with the rest of the play it looks at both sides of a situation. I think that Russell has used his play to get across his own feelings against father figures; maybe he had a bad experience or generally had no time for his own father. Overall the Blood Brothers play and its writer’s use of many different techniques to engage the audience throughout the play works very well and this can be shown from how many people enjoy the play.
From the constant appearance of the narrator with his haunting songs and the superstition that fills peoples minds with many answers to the mysteries that are put across. The structure of the play also helps the maintenance of audience interest with only two acts, there is limited time to change the scenery but it is done cleverly and in sections while the narrator watches over. There are also a few running themes throughout the play that links back to certain sections at given times to ensure that the audience are always thinking about what’s happening and why.
If we see the narrator as the devil we can understand why he is present all the time around Mrs Johnston and Lyons – selling a baby was a bad thing and Mrs Lyons shouldn’t have forced her to do it. So the devil is on their conscience showing the inevitable consequences; which result in both brothers dieing. In conclusion, the play is combined with appealing and motivating circumstances that keep the audience with the play the whole way through; the story is still appealing but without the inclusion of superstition, class and other things it would not have been so interesting.