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Analysis of Supporting Characters in Blood Brothers

Mrs Johnstone

Mrs Johnstone is a warm and kind mother, who does her best to provide for her children in hugely difficult circumstances. In her opening song, she describes how she enjoyed a life of dancing in her youth. However, after meeting her husband and having a baby with him, he put a stop to any such fun. Her sufferings are compounded by him leaving her alone with seven children and pregnant with twins.

On top of this, she runs into dire financial struggles. The toll this life takes on her is demonstrated in the stage directions that tell us that she “is aged thirty but looks more like fifty.”

She doesn’t fully lose her sense of hope, and dreams of a better life for her family, singing:

“Maybe someday
We’ll move away
And start all over again
In some new place.”

This distant dream seems to become a reality when they move to the countryside. They enjoy a life that is comparatively easier, despite the difficulties that her grown-up children face.

Yet, as much as she tries to be happy, she cannot escape the guilt she feels for giving Edward away. Her conscience is spoken aloud by the bus conductor who mocks her belief that she has “forgotten the past”, before giving an ominous warning that: “No one can embark without the price being paid.”

She tries desperately to stop the tragic ending by revealing the boys’ biological connection. However, just as she’s struggled to keep her children out of trouble, she finds herself powerless to prevent the unfolding events.

Mrs Jennifer Lyons

Mrs Lyons lives in a middle-class, affluent household, and comes into contact with Mrs Johnstone when she employs her as a cleaner. Unable to have children and with a husband who is unwilling to adopt, she proposes a deal to Mrs Johnstone: to take one of her twins and pretend that she has given birth to the baby while her husband is away with work.

She promises to allow Mrs Johnstone to see the child every day, and it appears to be an amicable arrangement, although there is something sinister in the way that she insists they swear on the bible not to reveal the secret to anyone.

However, Mrs Lyons soon becomes jealous of Mrs Johnstone’s relationship with Edward. She breaks the promise of allowing Mrs Johnstone access to him, before threatening her to keep her silence. We see her become full of “nerves” and mentally tormented by the idea of Edward associating with the Johnstones. She desperately wants to be Edward’s only true mother.

Mrs Lyons is also shown to be snobbish, telling her son:

“You see, you see why I don’t want you mixing with boys like that! You learn filth from them and behave like . . . a horrible little boy, like them.”

Ultimately, she is driven mad by her worries about Edward’s closeness with the Johnstones and the “reckoning day” that the narrator reminds her she will one day face.

Convinced that Mrs Johnstone will follow her “like a shadow”, she attempts to stab her. Later, she tells Mickey about Edward’s and Linda’s relationship, presumably seeing this as a way that she could break off her son’s connection with his working-class friend (and biological family) once and for all.

Linda

Linda is fiercely loyal and defends Mickey against Sammy and then their teacher when each of them attempts to bully her friend. She has a maturity that Mickey doesn’t have, and declares her feelings of love to him several years before he is able to reciprocate.

She also keeps Mickey out of getting into serious trouble by managing to steer him away from the influence of Sammy. However, after Mickey is made redundant, she sees Mickey going off with Sammy and knows the trouble this will lead to, calling after him, “Mickey . . . No!”

Ultimately, she finds herself caught between the twins, symbolised during the piggy-in-the-middle game at the fairground that ‘freezes’ when she’s in the middle. The narrator asks in a lament:

“Who’d tell the girl in the middle of the pair
The price she’ll pay for just being there.”

In her own sense of helplessness, she turns to Edward for help after Mickey gets out of prison, and they begin a “light romance” that proves to be deadly.

Narrator

Throughout the musical, the narrator takes on different roles, sometimes directly participating in the action. For example, he appears as the milkman and the gynaecologist, humorously noting, “Actually I’ve given up the milk round and gone into medicine.”

As the story develops, his role becomes more about commenting on the action, and reminding the audience about the tragedy to follow.

When Mrs Lyons thinks about her secret deal with Mrs Johnstone, the narrator gives a chilling prophecy of the pain to come:

“Oh y’know the devil’s got your number
He’s never far behind you
He always knows where to find you
And someone said they’d seen him walking past your door”

Sammy

Sammy is a wayward child who is described by Mickey as “dead mean”. Mickey attributes this behavior to Sammy having a metal plate in his head after he fell out of a window.

Unlike Mickey, he has internalised the class conflict and immediately rejects Edward for being a “friggin’ poshy.” There are also hints from very early on about how his delinquent behaviour will worsen, in the way that he dreams of owning “a real gun.”

We see Sammy’s escalating criminality when he draws a knife on a bus conductor. Although Linda is able to steer Mickey away from that life for a few years, the hardships of unemployment and poverty eventually weigh on him. Sammy’s way of life becomes too enticing for Mickey to resist. Inevitably, when the crime goes wrong and Sammy shoots someone, both boys end up in prison.

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