Musicals can be a bit airy fairy, light on substance. Not Blood Brothers. It has plenty to say and says it an eloquent voice and with the heart of a lion.
No wonder this Willy Russell masterpiece (he wrote the book, music and lyrics in 1983) had a phenomenal run of twenty-four years in the West End and has toured numerous times, here in the UK and around the world.
It has lost none of its emotional magic and can still get audiences to their feet for prolonged standing ovations, as it did at Richmond Theatre on Tuesday.
I don't suppose I was the only person there who was reduced to tears. It gets me every time, this heart-breaking story of twin boys separated at birth and the tragedy of what becomes of them both when they meet and become friends.
It is a social conscience piece: Mickey is kept by his impoverished single mum Mrs Johnstone to be raised alongside numerous raucous siblings in a Liverpudlian slum. His twin Eddie is given away to Mrs Johnstone's employer Mrs Lyons to be raised as a single child in a pampered middle class home. This pact is a terrible secret shared by the two women.
Blood Brothers looks at the subjects of nature v nurture, poverty v financial security, education, class, and love. Which makes it one of the most meaningful musicals ever written.
This touring production has great power. Lyn Paul has played Mrs Johnstone countless times yet makes the role beguilingly fresh. She is a real class act.
The twins, crazy fun Mickey (Alexander Patmore) and posh Eddie, who adores him (Joel Benedict) are both superb. As is the foreboding bogeyman figure of the Narrator (Robbie Scotcher), as mesmerising when watching events from the shadows as he is when singing centre stage.
Danielle Corlass does an excellent job as Linda, the girl both boys love, maturing from giggly schoolgirl through teenage years to being a desolate wife and mother.
The whole ensemble and wonderful band make this an outstanding production which I cannot praise highly enough.
If you've seen it, see it again. If you've never seen it - what are you waiting for?
If there were more than five stars to give, Blood Brothers would certainly get them from me.