Blood Brothers: theatrical conventions of the period

Blood Brothers: theatrical conventions of the period

Background Information

  • Blood Brothers originated in the era of Modern Drama (late 19th - 20th century). Key conventions from this period include faithful representation of every-day life, examining social issues and the exploration of individual psychology.
  • Written by Willy Russell in 1982, the play applies Epic Theatre techniques popularized by Bertolt Brecht such as the narrator role, multi-rolled characters, and direct audience address. These techniques seek to make viewers critically reflect, rather than just emotionally feel.

Genre Conventions

  • Blood Brothers is also considered a Musical Drama and one convention of this genre evident in the play is songs sung by characters to express and advance the plot. Examples include “Marilyn Monroe” where Mrs. Johnstone shares her struggles and dreams, advancing our understanding of her character.


  • A key feature of plays from this period is the use of symbolism. In Blood Brothers, various symbols play a dynamic role in delivering the story’s message, including the locket and the shoes on the table.

Use of Foreshadowing and Dramatic Irony

  • The use of Foreshadowing is another theatrical convention from this period. Throughout Blood Brothers, ominous hints and clues hint at future events such as the tragic outcome for the brothers.
  • Dramatic Irony is also extensively used, where audiences know vital information before characters do, like the real identity of the brothers.

Thematic Exploration

  • There’s also a thematic exploration of class distinction and the impact of fate versus free will, typical of modern drama. The play critically explores these issues through the sharply contrasted life experiences of the twin brothers.

Setting Features

  • The setting of the play is typically minimalistic and adaptable. This is a defining feature of Modern Drama where the emphasis is placed on the actors and plot rather than elaborate settings.

Dramatic Techniques

  • Mono-drama or soliloquy, where a character speaks their innermost thoughts aloud when alone or thinks they are alone, is a technique used in the play. For example, Mrs. Johnstone’s soliloquy at the start of the play immediately lends insight into her character.
  • Blood Brothers also uses Doubling, a theatrical convention where actors play multiple characters, adding layers of complexity and meaning to a performance. For instance, the same actor often plays both the younger and older versions of Mickey and Eddie.