The definition of hardship is “that which has to bear, suffering, privation” which basically means when a person goes through a hard time due to a split up or a person dying often leading to a series of unfortunate events. Willy Russell’s music interests started at about the age of 13 when he would leave school for lunchtime sessions at the cavern and during that time discovered the Beatles. He made an early movie script called ‘Wings’ written for Paul McCartney although it was never made, Russell said that he wasn’t sad about it as he said ‘there was no hope of making a movie when the script had been specifically written around the notion of an already existing band.
At the time Blood Brothers was written there was unparalleled turmoil within the Tory government as ‘Thatcherism’ ruled everyone. The chaos spread and elevated as many public sector workers were laid off in an effort to thwart inflation however in doing this Margaret Thatcher made the unemployment rates skyrocket. Many think that Russell wrote his play in order to lash out at Thatcher in order to send some sort of subliminal message to her.
Blood Brothers is a story of hardship, struggle and emotions amongst the economic decline of Liverpool from the 1950s to the1970s. Its views are believable and moving and has been keeping theatres full for many, many years. The story revolves around twins born into a poor Liverpudlian family. Deserted by her husband and already with a large family their mother gives one of them away to her wealthy, childless; employer Mrs Lyons. The twins meet years later as children and become inseparable friends, to the horror of their mothers, only to be separated again and then reunited in adulthood with tragic consequences. It conveys the effects of class on the way that people talk, dress and act in everyday life very well.
Mrs Johnstone is the long suffering mother of the twins, Mickey and Eddie, the way that they first meet and act suggests they are from two separate worlds which yet again reinforces the theme of hardship showing that it could have been so different for either one if they had been given to the ‘rich mother’ instead of the other. As quoted by a critic the narrator is “Easing the leaps between time and location is the narrator, whose intimidating and daunting aura, as he sings, phantom like amongst the characters, lends a haunting dimension to the occasion.” The constant presence of the narrator and the fact that he dons black clothing throughout the duration of the play, as if he is the person’s conscience, makes him all the more ghostlike.
The narrator is in some ways an adaptation of the Greek Chorus from the tragic plays of ancient Greece. They were a company of actors who would comment on the play and offer background information, to help the audience keep track of it. In some of the earliest plays the chorus would show how an ideal audience would react to action and events unfolding in the play. But really their main purpose was to perform songs in relevance to the play to provide the actors with time to change clothes and for the scene changes.
The chorus evolved thereafter but song was not used. Sometimes the message was spoken to try and illustrate it better, and help people understand the play as sometimes it can be hard to follow as it can be fast moving or just plain complicated. The chorus could contain up to 50 members but this changed over time and this number receded. In the Sophoclean chorus the narrator or leader of the chorus would sometimes interact with characters in the play. Russell uses a combination of these as he is only using one narrator. He doubles up as a chorus but also uses Sophocles’ idea of getting the narrator to interact with characters in the play and take things on and off the stage.