How does Willy Russelll use the songs to enhance the audience’s understanding of the play ‘Blood Brothers’? Blood Brothers is a play written by Willy Rusell as a school play in 1981. It was then developed into a full play/musical and performed for the first time at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983. The musical features many songs that help to introduce the characters and set the scenes. The songs are sometimes also used to progress through the musical. One of these many songs starts on the first scene right after the narrator exits. Mrs. Johnstone sings it. In this song Mrs.
Johnstone describes her life before the story starts. The song is used to introduce one of the main characters Mrs. Johnstone. Throughout the song Mrs. Johnstone is compared to Marilyn Monroe, this is an extended metaphor for her life. She is considered to be like Marilyn Monroe because her life starts off well but after time it starts to deteriorate just like that of Marilyn Monroe’s life. This song enhances the audience’s understanding of the play by showing that Mrs. Johnstone’s life has not treated her well, it helps the audience sympathise with Mrs. Johnstone.
This helps the audience understand more what Mrs. Johnstone is going through during the rest of the play. Also throughout the song Mrs. Johnstone and her husband “go dancing”. This is an extended metaphor for her hope. When she first meets her husband they go dancing a lot because they have a lot of hope together. This is the same when they get married. In the song there is a line “An’ though I still fancied dancing, my husband wouldn’t go” she is saying that she still had hope for her and her husbands relationship but he had none, this is here to show the slow downfall of their relationship.
After they spilt up and there is ‘No more dancing’ her husbands meets another girl “who looks a bit like Marilyn Monroe” they go dancing together because there is hope for their relationship. The “we went dancing” is also picked up later on in the play, for example at the start of act 2 when Mrs. Johnstone is talking about Micky. She says, “He’s even started dancing, secret dancing” Mrs. Johnstone is saying that Micky has started to secretly date girls, it has been written using the extended metaphor to say he has hope with these girls he is secretly dating. Also in act one Mrs.
Johnstone sings about the creditors coming to collect her possessions. This song is full of double meanings between the creditors and the fact that Mrs. Johnstone is giving her baby away to Mrs. Lyons. Such as when she sings “Then, I’m afraid, what can’t be paid, must be returned” when she says this she is really talking about her baby and how she cannot afford to keep it so she must give it up. She also says, “Only for a time, I must not learn, to call you mine. ” She is talking about how in the end she won’t be able to pay for the items and they will be taken away and so she never really owns them.
The secret meaning of this of this is that she is giving her baby away so she will only know it for a while until it gets taken away from her by Mrs. Lyons. I think Willy Russell has done this to show the similarity between the giving up of her baby and the rest of her life; it’s all the same. He’s trying to show that Mrs. Johnstone cant own anything not even her baby because of the position she lives in. There is a song during act two called the summer song. It is a dramatic device used to show the progression of time. I believe the writer, Willy Russell, has done this to split the story in two.
The first half shows the boys growing up and living happily and the second half shows the start of their demise and eventual death. The language in this song is all implying what is going to happen to the brothers such as: “And only if the three of them could stay like that forever,” this is here to show that things will change as indicated by “only if… ” It also says: “They care not for what’s at the end of the day. ” This is trying to show that they are having fun unaware of what is going to happen to them. It is also trying to show their ignorance towards their fate.
Repeated throughout the play is a song sung by the narrator called “The Devil’s Got Your Number”. I think it is repeated throughout the play as a constant reminder of what is going to happen to the brothers. I don’t think that Willy Russell wants you to forget that their lives are going to end. The song seems to be sung every time something happy happens to somebody, I also think this is because Willy Russell doesn’t want you to forget the brother’s fate. The narrator is portrayed as a kind of anti-hero, whenever he appears he is always darkening the mood.
The songs throughout the play affect the audience in many difference ways. For example the Marilyn Monroe song at the start is used to make the audience empathise with Mrs. Johnstone. The summer song is used to show the audience the brothers growing up and to show how happy they are at the time its showing. It’s trying to make the audience feel empathy with the brothers as they are going to die. The songs also help us to understand what is happening in the story. If the song is about a tragedy the song will be slow with a lot of pauses.
Where as if the song is sung about something happy then it is usually fast paced with a lot less pauses. This helps you understand because without even listening to the words you can understand what is happening. The last song in the play I sung by Mrs. Johnstone. It’s a very slow and emotional song. It shows Mrs. Johnstone going into denial about her two son’s deaths. It really makes you feel sorry for Mrs. Johnstone. Overall the play wouldn’t be the same without the songs. Willy Russell uses them to help you to understand the character feelings and help draw the story along.