Set during the 1950s-80s in Liverpool, this thought-provoking adaptation of the classic play BLOOD BROTHERS follows the story of two brothers separated at birth who grow up in different social classes. The show's Producer, ANOUSHA KARIM, interviewed the directors to learn more about their unique adaptation.
Anousha: What should an audience expect from Blood Brothers?
Lucy (Director): I think the audience can expect a rollercoaster of emotions. The play jumps from the ridiculous to the traumatic at an often erratic pace. I’d also suggest forgetting any expectations; we hope that our version of the play will reshape any ideas that audiences who are familiar with the play may have.
Tayo (Assistant Director): The audience will have a lot to think about – not just in terms of the obvious, but also regarding the dynamics shaping both the production and our wider world which are usually left unsaid.
Anousha: In your adaptation of this classic play, you've chosen to highlight the racial and class tensions within Liverpool at the time. How does your production of the play differ from other versions of Blood Brothers that an audience member might be familiar with?
Tayo: I mean there's the obvious, which is that we're doing a production of Blood Brothers where the titular brothers are Black. This opens up a whole world of dynamics here at the intersection of class and race. There's no better place to set this than central Liverpool, home to one of the oldest Black communities in the UK. However, the differences aren't just representational, we're also leaning into the folk elements of the production to really bring out the magic that lurks just outside your vision.
Lucy: Drawing upon the context of the racial tensions will hopefully bring an alternative perspective to the class conflict on which the play centres. Whilst familiar audiences will be aware of the class warfare that was particularly rife in the 1980s, we wanted to highlight the intertwined conflicts of race and class that are just as prevalent today as they were in 1981. Hopefully doing so will encourage audiences to reflect on what has, and more importantly what hasn’t, changed over the past few decades.
Anousha: How are rehearsals going?
Lucy: Rehearsals have been going really well. Having started on Zoom, it’s been so nice to actually get together in person. Everyone has been putting a lot of time and energy into the production process, and both the cast and crew have been very patient with my constant indecision, ramblings, and weird (mostly failed) experiments. Rehearsals have definitely been the best part of the experience for me, and I hope everyone else has enjoyed it just as much!
Hetty (Assistant Director): When we started in the winter break, most of us were quite nervous. I certainly felt unsure in the direction I was giving. As we've all gotten to know each other, it seems to me that people are finding their voices – now the cast gives nearly as much direction to their castmates as the directorial team! Rehearsals feel like sibling get-togethers. There is a real sense of camaraderie which I think will translate beautifully to the stage since, at its core, this play is about family.
Anousha: Without spoiling too much, what is your favourite part of the show?
Hetty: Tayo always says that the play is realistic but it's not realism. I think that some of the scenes that typify this happen when the brothers are young children. They're still played by grown men, so there's an element of comedy. It's been so much fun helping Amin (Eddie) and Eyoel (Mickey) get in touch with their childlike innocence and playfulness.
Lucy: It’s hard to say; there’s something absurdly wonderful about watching two grown men (with beards!) sincerely play seven-year-old boys, and that has been a lot of fun to play around with in rehearsals. But I think my favourite part will be hearing some Scouse accents on stage. It’s a rarity in Cambridge, and I daresay it has been the most challenging, and often most comical, part!
Tayo: There's a lot that I love about the show, but I think the weird sort-of spooky bits with the Narrator are my favourites. The way Charlotte plays them as this not-quite-evil but still menacing figure really gets under the skin in the best ways!