In ‘Blood Brothers’, how does Willy Russell use music to create emotive effect?
Choose and explore the audience reaction to one song…
Willy Russell combines love, life, death and friendship to bring up the astounding play Blood Brothers. Set in the 1950’s Liverpool, Russell illustrates division in English through the clever plot; given away at birth for convenience, the memory of his Edward haunts his birth mother eternally. Plagued by guilt, experience the emotional struggle that Mrs Johnstone must face, whilst bringing up her other children, including Mickey, the son whom she kept.
“The audience were hooked before the curtain had finished opening.” Willy Russell uses music and words to engage the audience, alongside the gripping plot.
The overture, a haunting melody, is played whilst the curtains are still opening. The tune assembles a film-like atmosphere, combined with a sense of dreaming. The opening scene is a renactment of the tragic ending, which gives the audience an instant look into how the play will finish, however it will not all be clear to them, so the story is not ruined. The tune is emotional and grabs the audience’s heart.
A dramatic technique that is used it the use of a narrator, who in this case tells the story. In ancient Greek theatre the story would have been told by the chorus, and I believe Russell knew how effective this was and decided to incorporate it into his own work. In this play, the Narrator takes on different roles, which possibly suggests that instead of having an actual character, he is just the conscience of the main characters. This is implied because the roles he plays are simple people, who could just disappear into the background. He offers additional information to the audience, helping them to understand. This suggests he is inside the other characters heads. On the other hand, the parts he plays are essential to the overall atmosphere of the play, and therefore without him it wouldn’t be the same.