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Russell: Blood Brothers

15. Act 2 – "I could have been him!" (pp. 67-83)

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read the final part of Act 2, focusing in particular on: (i) the extent to which the scenes showing workers being laid off serves as political commentary or satire; (ii) the increasing separation of Edward and Mickey; (iii) the literary trope of 'one last job'; (iv) the themes of punishment and comeuppance; (v) the inescapability of the triangle between Edward, Linda and Mickey; (vi) Mrs Johnstone's revelation; and (vii) the return, right at the end of the play, of the line that began it – "Tell me it's not true, / Say it's just a story."


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Willy Russell's Blood Brothers. The first six modules serve as an introduction to play, exploring the play's historical context, the extent to which it is a 'Brechtian' play, the fact that we are told in the very first scene what will happen at the end, and the themes of superstition, nature and nurture, and destiny and fate. In the following nine modules, we go through the play scene by scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes, language, symbolism, and more.

Note: We use the Methuen Drama version of the play (ed. Jim Mulligan). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in the page numbers.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2022, January 29). Russell: Blood Brothers - Act 2 – "I could have been him!" (pp. 67-83) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Russell: Blood Brothers – Act 2 – "I could have been him!" (pp. 67-83)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 29 Jan 2022,