The Effectiveness Of ?Blood Brothers? Essay, Research Paper
?Blood Brothers? is set in Liverpool in the early eighties. The play follows the life of two main characters: Eddie Lyons and Mickey Johnstone. The play has proved extremely popular with audiences of all ages. In this essay I aim to consider all the dramatic qualities of the play and how Willy Russell uses them to promote the dramatic effectiveness of the play.
In ?Blood Brothers? the characters fall into two stereotypical groups: the working class Johnstones and their associates, and the middle class Lyons. It seems ironic that although the Johnstone family live on the breadline they start off cheerfully, compared to the Lyons who never seem content. This makes the audience what is wrong in the lives of both families and created dramatic tension. The main characters, Eddie and Mickey are people that we can relate to: we feel pathos with them as they face the trials and tribulations of life. Russell uses pathos to involve the audience so they feel pity when Mickey loses his job, fear at the end of the play when the shooting scene takes place, and experience childhood joy when Eddie and Mickey share jokes.
Humour, in its various forms, plays a large part in ?Blood Brothers?. It keeps the audience interested and balances out the conflict and sadness in the play. Throughout the play we experience different types of humour such as the use of a pun when Mickey and Eddie are discussing Sammy?s head. Mickey tells Edward about Sammy having a metal plate put in his head when he had an accident.
Edward says: “A side plate?” and Mickey replies: “No, it?s on top.” This pun leads to misunderstanding due the children?s innocence and the way they are oblivious to the double meaning makes the conversation amusing.
We experience incongruity when Edward and his mother argue and Eddie says:” You?re a fuckoff!” He has picked up this bad language from his new friends and it sounds totally out of place with his surroundings, which is what makes the audience laugh, as it is completely unexpected.
There is an example of slapstick or visual humour when the children are playing with another gang. They are impersonating various people and Sammy pretends to be a professor with a bomb. The bomb is really a condom full of water and it explodes over the children. This makes the audience laugh without actually hearing any words spoken.
However, ?Blood Brothers? is not a straightforward comedy. There are elements of sadness, happiness, frustration and pain in the play. We experience conflict which balances the humour. There are examples of physical, verbal, overt and covert conflict throughout the play. The most notable example of physical conflict is when Mickey shoots Eddie. The audience are reminded of the superstition that the brothers would die if they were to find out they were in fact twins. This builds dramatic tension and then this tension dies away after the climax of the shooting.
The verbal conflict in the play takes place mainly between the female characters. A striking example is when Mrs. Lyons goes in to Mrs. Johnstone?s house and they argue. The sentences are short – “Don?t lie!” for example ? in order to create a build up of tension. This tension is released when Mrs. Lyon?s attempts to stab Mrs. Johnstone. Both these examples are also forms of overt conflict because they are meant to be seen. They release tension that builds in the preceding scenes.
When Mrs. Lyons tactfully tries to stop Mrs. Johnstone holding Edward you can feel the atmosphere and sense her unhappiness and instability. This creates further tension, as the audience are frustrated because they can?t prove what is going on.
Dramatic irony is a key factor in this play. The best example is when Mickey takes Edward home for the first time saying: “Mam, this is my blood brother.” Mickey and Eddie are unaware the full impact of this statement, but the audience are. Another example is when Edward doesn?t tell his mother where he obtained the locket that contains a photo of Mickey and Mrs. Johnstone. He says: “It?s just a secret, everybody has a secrets, don?t you have secrets?” The audience begin to feel involved with the play and the suspense builds because they know Mrs. Lyons keeps the biggest secret of all.
?Blood Brothers? is composed of fairly simple storylines. There is nothing too difficult to understand and it helps the audience to stay focused and involved with the action.
The varied scene changes in the film work to keep the audience captivated, as does the upbeat, fast pace of the play. The music creates a dramatic atmosphere and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. An incidence of this is when excitement is created by the sounds of a heartbeat rising to a crescendo.
Overall I feel Willy Russell is very successful in sustaining the audience?s attention and involving them with his characters due to the effectiveness of his writing. The plotlines are simple yet captivating, and the characterisation is vivid and imaginative. It is easy to empathise with the emotions experienced by his characters which makes us care about what happens to them. Russell is also highly successful in building dramatic tension and the conclusion of the play is both shocking and thought provoking.