Blood Brothers: cultural context

Blood Brothers: cultural context

Setting and Historical Context

  • “Blood Brothers” is set in Liverpool, England during the period between the late 1960s and early 1980s, which is important for understanding the cultural context of the play.
  • The position of Britain in this period, undergoing deindustrialisation and economic transformation, impacts the characters’ lives directly, particularly the Johnstone’s who represent the struggling working class.
  • The background of Thatcherism is important - its policies widened the gap between the rich and the poor and had a significant impact in areas like Liverpool.

Social and Class Themes

  • The socio-economic disparities between the upper-class Lyons family and working-class Johnstone family underscores the impact of societal class division, a prominent issue in Britain during this time.
  • The play explores the powerful cultural belief in fate and destiny and the assumption that one’s social status is predetermined at birth.
  • Education is a key theme in the play; opportunities for further academic pursuit and upward mobility are seen as limited to the affluent.

Cultural Reflections

  • The superstitions prevalent in “Blood Brothers” reflects cultural folk beliefs, particularly within working class communities. They act as metaphors for the social and economic barriers people faced.
  • The cultural context of musical theatre industry in the late 20th century is important to consider since the lively musical numbers throughout “Blood Brothers” are true to this form, often used to present and enhance emotional conflict.
  • Gender roles during this period are also addressed in the play, particularly the stereotyping of male and female characters, honouring and challenging societal expectations in equal measure.

Role of Language and Characterization

  • Willy Russell, the playwright, uses the cultural context of Liverpool and its Scouse accent to bring authenticity to characters and setting alike.
  • The use of language, particularly Liverpool dialect, also taps into the cultural context of the region, invoking a sense of place and class.
  • Russell intentionally uses characters that are instantly recognisable and relatable to the British audience - for example, the mother figure struggling to make ends meet, and the authoritative, intimidating figure of the law.