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'Blood Brothers' by Willy Russell Context 1947 Willy Russell born in Whiston, just outside Liverpool. 1962 Russell leaves school to become a ladies' hairdresser. 1969 Russell returns to school as a mature student. 1983 Blood Brothers premiers in Liverpool. Awarded an Honorary M.A. by the Open University. Summary Act One: The audience meet Mrs Johnstone. We learn of her superficial marriage and her large family. She struggles to feed the children she has and we learn that she is expecting again. Not one child, but twins. The audience sees the contrast between the social classes when comparing Mrs Johnstone's home with the home she cleans, the home of Mr and Mrs Lyons. In comparison to Mrs Johnstone's busy and noisy family home, Mrs Lyons is lonely with her husband away on business. The Lyons have a large and immaculate home, but it is empty. Seeing her worry over having two additional mouths to feed, Mrs Lyons persuades Mrs Johnstone to give one of her babies to her. Mrs Johnstone is reluctant, but Mrs Lyons' persistence and seeing the opportunity of a good upbringing relents. Mrs Johnstone tells her other children that one of the twins has died and gone to heaven. Fearing that their secret deal will be made known, Mrs Lyons persuades her husband that Mrs Johnstone's work has slipped and that she should be sacked. Mrs Lyons uses Mrs Johnstone's superstitious nature to help silence her forever, telling her that should either twin ever find out that they were separated they shall both die. The audience then meets one of the twins, Mickey Johnstone, now age seven. Mickey and Edward meet and their friendship springs from a fascination in the other. Eddie sees Mickey as a kind of role model who plays exciting games, swears and spits - things which Eddie has never experienced before. Mickey 'educates' Eddie and the pair become 'blood brothers' - a moment of dramatic irony for the audience who know that the pair are exactly that. ...read more.


In fact we see her refuse money from the desperate Mrs Lyons who offers her, "Thousands... I'm talking about thousands if you want it, and think what you could do with money like that." To which Mrs Johnstone replies, "I'd spend it. I'd buy more junk and trash; that's all. I don't want your money. I've made a life here. It's not much of one maybe, but I made it." In contrast, Mrs Lyons is very conscious of her social position and the above scene indicates how she sees money as a solution to the problems of Mrs Johnstone. Mrs Lyons is portrayed as a cold woman who doesn't how much emotion. She is very over-protective of Eddie and fears his bond with the Johnstone family. Later in the play this fear becomes more evident as she appears as a neurotic, obsessive character who appears to be losing control - evident in the scene when she attempts to attack Mrs Johnstone with a kitchen knife. * Which of the mothers do you feel most sympathy for? Why? * Is love or money more important in raising a child? The Role of the Narrator The narrator in Blood Brothers can be compared to the Greek Chorus. The main features of a Greek Chorus are as follows. Consider the narrator in Blood Brothers and how it compares. * Offers background and summary information - helps the audience follow the performance. * Comments on the main themes of the play. * Expresses what the main characters cannot say e.g. fears, secrets. * Often communicated in song form. * Originally had 12 members, but spoke and moved in unison and were considered one entity. * Acted as a link between the actors and audience. The narrator in Blood Brothers acts as a constant reminder to us of the brothers' tragic fate - exemplified in the musical number 'Shoes upon the table' which is repeated throughout both acts of the show. ...read more.


You sorted it out. You an' Councillor Eddie Lyons." "Why didn't you give me away! ... I could have been... I could have been him!" (Mickey to Mrs Johnstone) Exam Questions You will have to answer TWO questions on 'Of Mice and Men'. The first question will refer to an extract that will be printed in the exam booklet. You will have a choice for the second question. The second question will refer to the play as a whole. Extract Questions Look closely at how Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons speak and behave here. What does it reveal about their relationship? With close reference to the extract, show how Russell creates mood and atmosphere here. Look closely at how Russell presents [insert character's name] here. How does this influence the reader's attitude towards [insert character's name]? Read the extract. How does Russell suggest [insert character's name] feelings in this extract? With close reference to the extract, show how the way it is written affects the reader's attitude to [insert character's name]. Whole Play Questions To what extent can you blame Mrs Johnstone for the tragic events of the play? How des Russell present the theme of [insert theme here e.g. superstition] in 'Blood Brothers? Write about the relationship between Mickey and Edward and how it is presented in the play. How is the character of [insert character's name] important to the play as a whole? Imagine you are [Insert character's name]. Some time after the events of the play, you look back on your actions and how they led to the death of Edward and Mickey. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Remember how [character name's] would speak when you write your answer. Give advice to the actor playing Mrs Johnstone on how she should speak and behave at different points in the play. Think about: * Mrs Johnstone's meeting with Mrs Lyons. * Mrs Johnstone's relationship with Mickey. * Mrs Johnstone's relationship with Edward. * Mrs Johnstone's relationship with other characters. To what extent do you think that the ending of 'Blood Brothers is appropriate? ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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