Arts: Tell me it's not true
David Soul should be booked for his part in `Blood Brothers'. By David Benedict
Saturday 01 February 1997
Peel, of course, was played by Diana Rigg, now an altogether different type of dame and currently starring in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Last year, we were promised David Soul going legit opposite Hannah Gordon in Henry James's The Aspern Papers. Alas, this spectacularly unlikely doubleact collapsed prior to opening but he's here at last in Willy Russell's suprisingly tenacious Blood Brothers.
Bolstering this show by inserting stars is nothing new. Kiki Dee, Petula Clark, David, Shaun Cassidy and even Carole King have boosted box-office for the first Greek-tragedy-goes-scouse musical but all of the above took the leading roles in this tough, heartfelt story of a mother who loses her sons. Hiring a name to play the marginal role of the narrator is like trying to persuade a child that the best thing about a surprise parcel is the string.
Throwing the focus away from the central trio does the show no favours. The rhyming couplets of the doom-laden plot narration are the least interesting component of the piece and anyone in their right mind would do everything to shift the audience's attention away from its portentousness. Soul glowers about in an ill-fitting version of a would-be smartly-cut five- button black suit plus shoes which probably cost more than the rest of the costume budget put together. This gritty show was never meant to be the last word in theatrical sophistication and the last thing it needs is unnecessary gloss, but the No Expense Spent ethos yields disgracefully shabby results.
The rest of the cast work hard to divert you, belting out the songs and playing the class warfare and heart-on-sleeve sentiment for all they're worth. Siobhan McCarthy is suitably full-throated as the struggling mother, Stephen Palfreman seizes working-class Mickey with both hands and Jan Graveson wrings pathos and every last laugh as the girlfriend caught between hope and despair.
But Soul? His accent would not disgrace a Brigadoon revival and the singing is adequate but this is a fan event. Of course, he knows all about the plot's dealing's with fate, superstition and the devil - he sold his soul to star in the TV devil-drama Salem's Lot. And then there were the singles... All together: "Don't Give Up on the Day Job..."
To 15 Feb, Phoenix Theatre, London, WC2. Booking: 0171-369 1733
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
newsThat most ancient of crimes is on the rise, threatening farmers' livelihoods, community trust – and human health
food + drink
sportIf you thought the London Olympics and Wiggins' Tour glory made last year best, don't forget Murray's Wimbledon win and Farah's double
Arts & Ents blogs
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber isn't retiring from music after all: Pop star says he was 'messing around'
American Hustle, review: 'Jennifer Lawrence is brilliant as the neurotic housewife'
Justin Bieber's mishaps and controversies
Is Bilbo Baggins a girl?
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- < Previous
- Next >