Blood Brothers: performance conventions

Blood Brothers: performance conventions

Context and Overview

  • “Blood Brothers” is a play written by Willy Russell. Published in 1981, the drama mixes elements of social realism with a strong music and performance-based narrative.

Narrator and Fourth Wall

  • The play employs the convention of a narrator to set the scenes and guide the audience. The narrator can also be interpreted as a sort of moral guardian or conscience for the characters.
  • The technique of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ is applied in “Blood Brothers”, mainly through the role of the narrator. This performance convention helps to develop a direct rapport with the audience.

Superstition and Symbolism

  • One key convention in “Blood Brothers” is the theme of superstition. The characters regularly refer to superstitions and omens, and it plays an instrumental part in the tragic ending.
  • “Blood Brothers” also operates on the convention of symbolism, with objects such as the locket and shoes being assigned significant meaning to the narrative.

Staging and Performance Styles

  • The play uses of the “staging in the round” convention, which creates a sense of closeness and participation, the audience are more involved in the action and the emotion of the play.
  • The use of song is another performance convention in “Blood Brothers”. The play has been labelled as a ‘play with songs’ rather than a musical, and the songs offer insight into character emotions and the overarching themes.
  • The play uses the convention of ‘double casting’. Many in the cast play two roles, often as a counterpart to their earlier character. This subtly underscores the parallels between the characters’ lives.

Dramatic Irony and Flashbacks

  • Dramatic irony, a key convention of Greek tragedies, is used extensively in “Blood Brothers”. It adds to the impending sense of doom, and intensifies the audience’s emotional experience.
  • Flashbacks are another performance convention that is used to offer insight into the characters’ past and to reveal important plot events.

Remember, when discussing performance conventions, be sure to include specific examples from the play and how these techniques impacted the overall themes, characters and audience reception. Analysing and evaluating the impact of performance conventions is an important part of drama appreciation and critique.