Violence, in forms both innocent and deadly, shows up over and over again in Blood Brothers. Even as children, the characters play violent games, “killing” each other with pretend guns in the song “Kids’ Game.” As they grow older, the violence becomes more real and threatening, reaching its first peak when Mickey’s older brother Sammy commits murder during an armed robbery. Of course, the violence doesn’t climax until the final scene of the play, when Mickey kills Edward with a gun, only to be shot himself by policemen.
Throughout the play, there are signs of how present and powerful violence is, cropping up in unexpected times and places. For instance, the seemingly refined Mrs. Lyons at one point slaps Edward, proving that she is not as gentle and loving as she pretends to be. Even the fun that Mickey, Edward, and Linda share is tinged with violence, as when Mickey and Linda encourage Edward to break a window with a rock. These characters are all so accustomed to violence that they believe it to be something casual, normal, and even fun. Russell, however, clearly has a different view. By weaving violence into so many moments of his narrative, he essentially allows the audience to become used to it—and then he depicts a shocking, brutal act of violence in the final moments of his play. This reminds us that violence always has consequences, and should never be thought of as “normal.”
Violence Quotes in Blood Brothers
So did y’hear the story of the Johnstone twins?
As like each other as two new pins,
Of one womb born, on the self same day,
How one was kept and one given away?
An’ did you never hear how the Johnstones died,
Never knowing that they shared one name,
Till the day they died…?
MRS. LYONS: You do know what they say about twins, secretly parted, don’t you?
MRS. JOHNSTONE: What? What?
MRS. LYONS: They say…they say that if either twin learns that he once was a pair, that they shall both immediately die. It means, Mrs. Johnstone, that these brothers shall grow up, unaware of the other’s existence. They shall be raised apart and never, ever told what was once the truth. You won’t tell anyone about this, Mrs. Johnstone, because if you do, you will kill them.
You’re always gonna know what was done
Even when you shut your eyes you still see
That you sold a son
And you can’t tell anyone.
But y’know the devil’s got your number,
Y’know he’s gonna find y’,
Y’know he’s right behind y’,
Yes, y’know the devil’s got your number
And he’s knocking at your door.
But you know that if you cross your fingers
And if you count from one to ten
You can get up off the ground again
It doesn’t matter
The whole thing’s just a game.
MRS. JOHNSTONE: YOU’RE MAD. MAD.
MRS. LYONS: I curse the day I met you. You ruined me.
MRS. JOHNSTONE: Go. Just go!
MRS. LYONS: Witch. I curse you. Witch!
MRS. JOHNSTONE: Go!
There’s a man gone mad in the town tonight,
He’s gonna shoot somebody down,
There’s a man gone mad, lost his mind tonight
There’s a mad man running round and round.
Now you know the devil’s got your number.
He’s runnin’ right beside you,
He’s screamin’ deep inside you,
And someone said he’s callin’ your number up today.
MRS. JOHNSTONE: Mickey. Don’t shoot Eddie. He’s your brother. You had a twin brother. I couldn’t afford to keep both of you. His mother couldn’t have kids. I agreed to give one of you away!
MICKEY: You. You! Why didn’t you give me away? I could have been…I could have been him!
And do we blame superstition for what came to pass?
Or could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class?