Blood Brothers; impacting & visceral Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin, assisted by J.J. Gerber*

My original emphasis as a newspaper writer reflected an interest in classical music. Within that particular genus, the conductor is where the buck stops. Naturally, when analyzing theatre presentations I instinctively look at the corollary – the director. Terry Tweed’s staging of BLOOD BROTHERS shoots for impact and she succeeds. Like “Oklahoma” upstairs, this effort has – by word-of-mouth alone, become a no-seats-availablehit. The only blemish; the Mrs. Lyons character somehow fails to demonstrate any real maternal interest or feeling. Surprising, because the basis of the Russell story is her supposed desire for progeny, hence her insistent pressuring to split up her maid’s upcoming twins.

From the dramatic opening scene where the entire cast is positionally manipulated & presented by the narrator, (costumed & performing as a somewhat ethereal ‘Fonzie’); his repetitions of the ‘Devil’s got your number’ number, keep reaffirming a sense of foreboding and tragedy. Lyrically, his iterations are in simplistic rhyme, but the effect is visceral. Mathieu Bellemare draws attention even when not the focal point. He manages to make even lounging stage-rear seem ominous. The two separated brothers portray ages from seven to post-secondary, and must maintain the imagery of their respective social strata. Andres Sierra is Mickey who stays with his indigent & struggling mother; Chad Tremblay’s Edward is the affluent family’s son. As both meet & reconnect, we see the personality parallels, as well as the gulf that inevitably separates them. Both portrayals ring sincere and even stance is utilized to mirror their reflective stations. Sierra is especially strong as he evolves through the vagaries of his maturation. Tremblay seems to the manner borne. His vocal projection, stance and linguistic manner replicate upscale Brits without crossing over into arrogance.

The two mothers are stereotypes of diametric contradiction. The struggling single mom is Alyssa Reeve whose accent would send Henry Higgins into convulsions, but her fortitude and practicality make her heroic. Her oftimes reprised song draws parallels between her life, desires, ambition, and that of Marilyn Monroe. She even sings – cockney. It is her counterpart, Jaclyn Serre who rings dross. She looks; dresses, and vocally projects the part of an upper class wife, but lacks any dimension as Edward’s parent.

Both boys have a recurring relationship with Linda, a young girl from Mickey’s ‘hood.  Karina Bershteyn gives as empathetic a reading to the archetype as did Lulu in ‘To Sir, with Love’. She comes across as sincere and credible. Tremblay & Sierra both are strongest when in dialogue with her.

The ‘cops & robbers’ play-scene is a little too long and thus becomes tedious. Surprisingly the choreography is banal and rather amateurish. But the four-piece musical accompaniment is top echelon…especially Andreane Bouladier’s flute solos.

Obviously, tremendous effort has gone into this presentation and overall, it’s logical why it’s now in a sold-out position. Similar to most things staged by Sheridan, audiences receive more than their ticket price. Reflecting this standard of thespian quality, “RENT” is to go on the road, as is Erindale’s ‘HALIFAX 1917’ which travels to its namesake city this coming summer. Kudos.

* J.J. Gerber is a 1st year Theatre student @ Sheridan

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