REVIEW: Blood Brothers, Kings Theatre, Southsea, Portsmouth

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Blood Brothers, Kings Theatre, Southsea, until Saturday (May 7) It’s the musical that just gets better and better the more you see it, so full, so rich, so powerful, so moving.

Willy Russell hit genius when he dreamt up Blood Brothers, and time and again, his casts respond magnificently to all that it has to offer - a bizarre tale of separated twins which grabs from the moment it opens.

Daringly, it kicks off with the double tragedy with which the tale concludes. The rest of the show becomes a prelude - a remarkable journey from hope to utter hopelessness.

Russell riffs brilliantly on the great debates - class versus fate, superstition versus destiny, have versus have-not - in his tale of Mrs Johnstone, the impoverished mum blessed/cursed with one child too many.

And in Niki Evans, producer Bill Kenwright has found a superb Mrs J, a feisty tiger mum overwhelmed by the forces she unwittingly unleashes. Tracy Spencer is similarly impressive as Mrs Lyons, the brittle, barren, would-be-mum who engineers the devil’s pact.

Victims and unwitting co-conspirators are the twins Mickey and Eddie, forced to grow up on vastly-different sides of the tracks, Eddie - superbly played by Paul Davies - the awkward posh kid and Mickey- so movingly captured by Sean Jones - the irrepressible working class kid who grows up to become a shattered man.

This is a show which gets you every time; there’s so much there to savour, so much to enjoy and so much to feel. Terrific songs, huge wit and energy, a first-rate cast and the most harrowing of conclusions make it the musical with everything.

Phil Hewitt