Blood Brothers (Theatre, 2008)
Name: Blood Brothers
- 01. Synopsis
- Act One
Around the beginning of the 1960s, Mrs Johnstone is deep in debt and cannot support her seven children after her husband walks out on her, so she takes a job as a cleaner for a local middle-class couple, Mr and Mrs Lyons. Soon she finds out she is pregnant, but she can barely afford to raise another child. Mrs. Lyons is desperate for a baby but is unable to conceive, and would like to adopt a child but her husband does not agree. Mrs Johnstone finds out that she is going to have twins and explains to Mrs Lyons that she cannot afford to raise two more babies. Mrs Lyons then suggests that Mrs Johnstone gives one of the babies to her. Mrs Johnstone apprehensively agrees to this and is made to swear on the Bible to keep to the deal. Mrs Johnstone has the twins, and names the two children Mickey and Edward, but then regrets having agreed to give one away. After keeping her deal with Mrs Lyons, she lies to her other children, saying that the other baby had died and gone to heaven.
Mrs. Johnstone continues to work for the rich family, but Mrs Lyons soon feels that Mrs Johnstone is paying too much attention to the child that she has given up to her. She fires Mrs Johnstone, who wants to take the baby with her, but Mrs Lyons plays on Mrs Johnstone’s superstitions by telling her that “if twins separated at birth learn that they were once one of a pair they will both immediately die”. Mrs Johnstone refuses to take the money that Mrs Lyons offers her and leaves without it and without the child.
Almost eight years later, Mickey, the son Mrs. Johnstone kept, meets Edward, the other twin, by chance, and after learning they share the same birthday, the two boys make a pact to become blood brothers, with Mickey calling Edward “Eddie”. Mrs Johnstone finds them and sends Eddie away, telling him not to come round again or else the “Bogey-man” will get him. Later in the day, Mickey goes to Eddie’s house, but Mrs Lyons throws him out when she comes to the realization that he is Edward’s separated twin. She and Eddie argue on the subject, and Eddie swears at her. Mrs Lyons slaps him and immediately regrets her reaction. She realises that he has learned to swear from Mickey.
Mickey is playing with some neighbourhood children including his friend Linda. Afterwards, he takes her to see Eddie, and the three of them sneak off to play, but are caught by a police officer when about to throw stones through a window. Mrs Lyons becomes worried about Eddie’s friendship with Mickey, as she has started to believe the superstition that she herself had made up. She decides to move and persuades her husband, who realizes she is becoming ill and the sees the effect the poorer children are having on his son. When Eddie says goodbye, Mrs Johnstone gives him a locket with a picture of herself and Mickey, and the boys separate.
The scene shifts to the time around the end of the 1960s when the Johnstone family is being rehoused from the condemned inner city slum area of Liverpool to a new council house in the nearby overspill town of Skelmersdale.
- Act Two
It is now the mid 1970s and Eddie, Mickey and Linda are 14 years old. The Johnstones’ lives have improved since moving, and they have not seen Eddie in all this time. Mickey has a crush on Linda, who is obviously interested in him too, but Mickey does not know how to act with her. Both of them are suspended after insulting their teacher. Meanwhile, Eddie is suspended from his boarding school for refusing to give up his locket to a teacher, but he will not tell his mother about it, even after she sees the pictures of it. Mrs Lyons sees Mrs Johnstone near her house and her worries are renewed, and she fears for her life. Eddie and Mickey bump into each other in a field, but do not recognize each other. They become friends again, each wanting to be like the other before finally realizing who the other is and meeting up with Linda. Mrs Lyons confronts Mrs Johnstone and accuses her of following her family to stay close to Edward; Mrs Lyons then flies into a rage and tries to kill Mrs Johnstone, but loses her nerve at the last minute and instead runs away.
Four years later, an 18-year-old Eddie has feelings for Linda, but will not say anything, as he knows Mickey likes her too. Eddie leaves for university, but not before encouraging Mickey to ask Linda out. During Eddie’s absence, by the beginning of the 1980s, Mickey is made redundant from his factory job due to the recession, which forces him onto the dole. He soon discovers that Linda is pregnant, and they decide to get married. Eddie returns at Christmas ready to party and have fun, but Mickey realizes that they are now very different; after a small fight with Eddie, they part. To get money, Mickey assists his brother Sammy in a robbery that goes wrong, and becomes an accessory to a murder committed by Sammy. He is sentenced to seven years in prison.
In prison, Mickey falls into a deep depression. When released early for good behaviour in the mid-1980s, he is still dependent on anti-depressants, and he becomes turns away from Linda. Linda, unable to get Mickey off the anti-depressants, contacts Eddie, who is now a councillor, and he gets them their own house and Mickey a job. Linda worries about Mickey and meets up with Eddie. Mrs Lyons sees them together and tells Mickey about it. Mickey, distraught over Eddie and Linda’s affair, grabs the gun that Sammy hid before he got arrested and then storms down to the council offices to confront Eddie.
There, Eddie is giving a speech when Mickey storms in with the gun. Mickey asks why, even though Eddie has everything and Mickey has nothing, Eddie would take away the one good thing that Mickey had – Linda. Eddie denies this intention, and the police enter, demanding that Mickey put the gun down. Mrs. Johnstone runs in and, in an attempt to stop Mickey from shooting Eddie, tells the two brothers the truth. Mickey despairs that he was not the one given away, because then he could have had the life given to Eddie. Mickey, distraught, gestures carelessly with the gun towards Eddie. The story ends when the police misinterpret this action and gun Mickey down as he accidentally shoots Eddie, killing them both. Mrs Lyons’s superstitious prediction has come true, and the Narrator questions whether class was more to blame than superstition.