“Blood Brothers”, a play by Willy Russell, was set in the late sixties/early seventies and was written in 1981. It is a Liverpudlian West Side Story about twin brothers being separated at birth because their mother cannot afford to keep them. She gives one of them away to a wealthy woman who longs for a child. The two children grow up as friends in very different environments, not bothered about the old tale about a curse that states that if twins are separated at birth, they will die if brought back together during their lives.
But a quarrel between the two boys soon brings trouble. Russell uses the play, including the scene that I am going to be focusing on, to put across views about 20th century society and to show the importance of class and life in Liverpool in the late sixties and early seventies. He also highlights the importance of environment and the way society, at the time, regarded single mothers. Single mothers were thought of as lower class characters that have many children born of different fathers.
At the time that “Blood Brothers” was set, politics would’ve been really bad. The government probably wouldn’t have cared or been bothered about the poor living conditions that some of the weaker families were living in. This would’ve had a large effect on those weaker families, such as the Johnstones, because of lack of money due to Mrs Johnstone’s low paid job. Weaker families in the sixties would’ve probably struggled to buy even the small amount of necessaries that they need in order to survive. The scene that I have chosen to focus on is when Mrs Lyons persuades Mrs Johnstone to give her one of her babies when they are born.
There are two very different social classes shown in this scene in particular because of the way the characters look, speak and the environment that they are in, which is Mrs Lyons’ home. When the two characters are talking to each other in this scene, we can tell that they are different not only by the way the talk but by the way they act, their body language and most importantly, the way they are dressed. On a whole, the play shows the differences between the social classes really well because of the differences between Mrs Lyons and Mrs Johnstone, and also the differences between Mickey, Mrs Johnstone’s son, and Eddie, Mrs Lyons’ ‘son.’
In the scene that I have chosen, the differences between the two social classes are clearly identified. Mrs Lyons is a middle class character whereas Mrs Johnstone is a working class character. Mrs Johnstone works for Mrs Lyons in a low paid job, resulting in small, cramped living conditions for her family and herself. Mrs Lyons, however, lives in a much larger house. The two characters speak very differently as well. Mrs Lyons speaks standard English with no swearing and no slang words, but Mrs Johnstone has a strong Liverpudlian accent and would most probably use a lot of swearing and slang words when she speaks. Mrs Lyons would be very smartly dressed with lots of expensive jewellery, but Mrs Johnstone would be poorly dressed, most probably wearing a cleaning apron while she is working. The only jewellery she would be wearing would be something like a cross to symbolise her religion and her superstition.
These differences all show the differences between the two social classes. Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons play very different roles in the play. Mrs Johnstone plays the role of a single mother with six or seven children. She is struggling to pay off her debts with people such as the catalogue man due to her low paid job. She is a poor woman and probably lives in an unfriendly environment. Her children will not have been brought up very well due to lack of money and possible lack of education. Mrs Lyons, however, is a very different character. She has no children due to never being able to have them.
She is a very lonely character as she spends most of her life alone because her husband is never home due to working all of the time. Although she has a lot of money, a large spacious home, a pleasant environment, lots of expensive furniture, clothes and jewellery, Mrs Lyons is still a very lonely character. She has always longed for a child of her own and when she finds out that Mrs Johnstone is pregnant, she takes the opportunity to fulfil her dream of having a child. There are some important lines within my chosen scene that are spoken differently. One of these is when Mrs Lyons says: “Give one of them to me.” This line is said with excitement, determination and anticipation. Mrs Lyons is so desperate for a child that she begs Mrs Johnstone to give her one of hers when they are born.