Blood Brothers – Act 1

Poverty in the UK
What percentage of children in the UK do you
think live in poverty?
27% (3.5 million)
‘Poverty’ in the UK means living on less than £100 per
week for a single adult, or £268 per week for two adults
living with two children.
(That equals less than £14’000 per year for a family of
Poor Kids and Friggin’ Poshies:
An Introduction to Blood Brothers
To explore the context of the play.
To be introduced to the main theme of the play.
Poverty and Its Repercussions
Why does poverty, particularly child
poverty, matter?
Does it just mean not having a 3D TV and
an iPhone, and not eating out for dinner?
Poverty and Its Repercussions
Charity ad
BBC Documentary
“Life is really bleak for our
poorest kids”
So, does poverty matter?
Statistics show that, in the UK today, wealthier children
Live longer lives
Get better qualifications
Get better jobs
Earn hundreds of thousands of pounds more
Have better life experiences
than their poorer peers.
How is all this relevant?
Blood Brothers, by Willy Russell, concerns two
families, the Lyons and the Johnstones.
One family is middle class (wealthy). The
other is low class (extremely poor).
The story is driven by the differences
between the two families, and what they mean
for their children.
Themes of the play
Social class and money are two key themes
of the play.
Make a list of everything you
know about Liverpool.
Liverpool is where the Writer
Willy Russell is from and the
setting for the play Blood
Information about Liverpool
• Liverpool was a rich seaport city in the 19th century.
• In the 20th century, it became a place of financial
depression, which led to unemployment and strikes.
•There was a big gap between the rich and the poor.
Watch the video clip: how might
the demise of the docks have
affected Mrs Johnstone and her
History of Liverpool
p. 5
The World’s Most Famous
Two households, both alike in dignity,
•In What
fair Verona,
lay our scene, about the
ancient grudge
to new and
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Page references
are from the
Editions book,
Why use a prologue?
• Why do you think playwrights sometimes
use prologues?
• Do you think it just ‘spoils the story’?
• What benefits might it have?
What expectations do you have of Blood
Prologue of Blood Brothers
So, did you ever 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, one given away
And did you never hear how the Johnstones died, never
Knowing they shared one name
Til' the day they died,
When a mother cried
My own dear sons lie slain
And did you never hear of a mother so cruel
That there's a stone in place of her heart
Then bring her on, and judge for yourselves
How she came to play this part
1. What do we learn about Mrs Johnstone’s
two sons on the first page? Include
2. How do we know that the musical will
result in tragedy? Use two quotations.
3. How would you describe the atmosphere at
the beginning of the musical? Use
quotations to explain your answer.
p. 5 - 7
‘Once I had a husband’ … to ‘And we’ll go
dancing’ on p.7.
Explain what life is like for:
a) Mrs Johnstone
b) Her children
What do you think of Mrs Johnstone?
Do you feel sympathy? Why?
What is Willy Russell telling us about
Liverpool social class?
p. 7 - 9
The Johnstones vs. The Lyons
• Read p. 7 - 9
• Mindmap the main differences between the
two families. Use at least one quotation for
Consider the role of the narrator. How many
different characters has he played so far? Why
might Russell have done this? How is he different
to a traditional narrator?
p. 9 - 16
The Johnstones vs. The Lyons
• Read p. 9 - 16
1. What are your impressions of Mrs Lyons?
2. Do you have any sympathy for her?
3. Do you agree with Mrs Johnstone’s decision
to give up one of her babies in order to save
the others? Can you think of anything else
she could have done?
PEE Paragraphs
Point: Mrs Lyons is a _______ character.
Evidence: For example, she says, “…
Explain: This shows the reader that…
A-grade sentence: Her use of the
verb/adjective/adverb ___, in particular, shows
What Evidence Can I Use?
With plays, you can use:
- Direct speech (what the character says)
- What other characters say about someone
- Stage directions (their actions)
What kind of person does Mrs Lyons seem to
Discuss what the following statements
suggest about her.
“We thought children would come along”
“Oh it seems such a long time…he’ll be
back in about five months’ time.”
“Mrs Johnstone, with two more children
how can you possibly avoid some of them
being put into care?”
Why are superstitions
relevant to Blood
Why can placing shoes on the table be considered bad luck?
Do some research and find out!
Dialect vs. Accent
• The term dialect should not be confused
with the term accent.
 Accent: the pronunciation
 Dialect: the pronunciation, vocabulary, and
• The so-called ‘best’ English accent:
• The Received Pronunciation (RP)
• It is also called the Queen’s English, Oxford
English, and BBC English
The way words are
pronounced: the way
words sound.
What accents can you
think of?
The words that are used.
The language of a particular
Can you think of any words
you use that might be
considered dialogue?
What role do accent and dialogue play in Blood Brothers?
Scouse Accent
What stereotypes do we associate with dialects?
Is there a particular accent you dislike? Explain why.
1. In Blood Brothers, how
much do accent and
dialect show a character’s
social class?
2. Find an example of a
‘poor kid’ and a ‘friggin’
poshie’ statement.
p. 16 - 20
• Why does Mrs Lyons want to fire Mrs
Johnstone? What is she so afraid of?
• Are her actions/emotions excusable?
Understandable? What kind of person do
you think she is?
p. 20 - 22
Mickey is now a young boy. This is the first
of a number of large time-leaps in the play.
Why do you think Russell has chosen not to
use scenes within his play?
p. 22 - 27
Mickey and Edward meet and become best
friends straight away.
Find two ways that Russell shows their:
a) Similarities
b) Differences
p. 27 - 29
Mrs Johnstone is alone because her
husband left her.
Why is Mrs Lyons lonely?
Write down 3 impressions of Mrs Lyons’
character in this section of the play. Why
does she react so strongly to Edward
swearing? (Use evidence in your answers).
p. 30 - 32
The kids’ game.
What does foreshadowing
Can you find any
examples of
foreshadowing from the
Finishing Act I
p. 33 - 37
Mr Lyons
Mrs Lyons
Finishing Act I
p. 37 - 42
Mrs Johnstone
Mr Lyons
Mrs Lyons
Finishing Act I
p. 42 - 45
Mrs Johnstone
Donna Marie
Blood Brothers – Act 1
• Sum up the events of Act 1 in 5 sentences.
• Make one prediction for Act II.