Nature or nurture – genetics or environment – the debate has raged for years as to what factors play the biggest part in shaping a person’s character and opportunity in life.
Willy Russell’s timeless masterpiece Blood Brothers ruthlessly seeks out answers to the conundrum by exploring the consequences of one twin brother being given away at birth to a wealthy childless couple - while the other sibling remains in a tough and impoverished household.
Russell also asks the question - what would entice a mother to hand over a child to someone whose house she cleans? Does she have a heart of stone? And what is the psychological impact on the woman holding her to the gift?
Is this the work of the Devil?
Lancing Repertory Players’ latest interpretation of the play is nothing short of a triumph.
That’s not faux praise for an amdram group. Nor is it an uncritical assessment of the work of fellow journalist and ally Jamie Crow who directed the production.
This is a fabulous cast who sensitively extract every last drop of emotion and pathos from a script that is delivered with word perfect precision.
There are none of those cliched amdram moments – the loud voice of the prompter cutting in, the hammy overacting of the dramatic denouement. It’s true there is no mega-bucks budget to deliver a set of national theatre standards. But that is the only giveaway.
Instead, the audience is treated to something far more polished and professional that many more revered theatrical venues than Lancing Parish Hall might be truly proud.
Singling out exceptional performances is always a dangerous game – especially when the whole cast is on tip top form, from Mike Black as narrator to Caroline Tinker as Linda.
But an extra round of applause please for Katie Hunwick as the mother Mrs Johnstone. This is a mesmerising, honest performance which conveys the heartache of a child given away; to Rosie O’Leary who raises her other son; and to that son Eddie played with such a fine balance of entitlement and gentleness by Harry Rippon.
Finally, to one of the youngest members of the team Aaron Ost whose portrayal of the poor brother Mickey at age seven ‘nearly eight’ and then into adulthood is a tour de force. Aaron is currently studying performing arts at Worthing College.
But you read it here first. He really is a star in the making.