LESS than two weeks after another tale of two separated twins who implausibly don’t clock their likeness, namely Propeller’s marvellous Comedy Of Errors, so returns a show almost as enduring as Shakespeare’s farce.
You don’t tend to get grown women – and a few chaps – crying at the end of the Bard’s offering. Yet Willy Russell’s hard-luck story continues to command huge loyalty and assured reaction as it dispenses song, humour and tragedy.
The West End favourite is back in Sheffield two years after Maureen Nolan played baby machine and struggling single mum Mrs Johnstone, now brought to life again by former X Factor finalist Niki Evans, pictured.
By her own admission not an actress, the bubbly Brummie compensates any flaws with technically perfect vocals and emotional conviction, singing strongly with Scouse lilt on the show’s cheesier musical moments, but excelling on key songs Marilyn Monroe, Bright New Day and weepy closer Tell Me It’s Not True.
The story begins on the skint cobbles of working class Liverpool with Mrs Johnstone giving up one of her twin boys to childless Mrs Lyons, the rich lady for whom she cleans. Sean Jones and Paul Davies are agile and efficient as evolving friends Scouser Mickey and Poshy Eddie, hailing from either side of the ‘tracks’ yet linked unknowingly by birth and an emerging love for childhood pal Linda.
Narrator Craig Price delivers a stand-out shift steering the rapidly-moving story from the vibrant kids street routine through the turmoil of two very different mothers as the twins cross paths, experience contrasting education, courtship, crime and ultimately heart-break as BB regulars are given a breezy, largely satisfying fix of this legendary show in its 25th year. Blood spills until February 12.