Blood Brothers has always been a good show. A truly great show, in fact.
However, the reality of Jack Tinker’s famous line “[Blood Brothers] brings the audience cheering to its feet and roaring its approval” has always escaped me.
Now, watching it 20 years after first seeing it at the Phoenix Theatre, the acclaim and approbation finally makes complete sense.
Maybe it’s maturity; perhaps it’s parenthood; it’s most likely a combination of them both, but today, Blood Brothers knocks me to the floor, only to pick me up and throw me back down again, even harder.
Onstage, little has changed in 20 years. The set is unaltered, lines that seemed awkward decades ago still do, and synth-driven musical peculiarities that once seemed old hat are now just plain odd.
But none of that matters, because the story and its characters are timeless.
And when the characters are played by actors of this calibre, then the story hits new heights.
Even characters who largely go unmentioned are given new depths, particularly the disturbed Mrs Lyons (Paula Tappenden) and a heartbreaking Linda (Danielle Corlass).
As the most famous cast member, Marti Pellow is advertised as the star of the show, but he is overshadowed by shattering, earth-shaking performances from Maureen Nolan (Mrs Johnstone) and Sean Jones (Mickey).
And while Willy Russell’s slightly jab at the class system is still crowbarred in, it does nothing to dampen the effect of the show’s crushing denouement.
It may be more than 30 years old, but Blood Brothers is as relevant, and powerful, as it ever was.
Blood Brothers is at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, until September 26.