BLOOD Brothers is upfront about its tragic ending from the very start – but the final moments of the play are still shocking.

Although the doomsayer narrator gives frequent reminders of the twins’ fate, we are lulled by scenes of their carefree childhood and the strength of their bond.

Mickey and Eddie, played by Sean Jones and Mark Hutchinson respectively, are separated at birth following a deal between struggling single mother Mrs Johnstone and well-off, but childless, Mrs Lyons.

They grow up near to each other but on opposite sides of the social spectrum and without ever knowing they are brothers until the day they die. Despite this, they are inevitably drawn to each other and vow to become best friends and ‘blood brothers’.

Just as inevitably, their differing social circumstances in adulthood threaten to break that bond.

Mickey’s downfall is dramatic. It is a testament to Jones’ acting ability that he can convincingly portray both a playful seven-year-old and a chronically depressed ex-con.

The rest of the cast were a credit to Willy Russell’s award-winning musical, but stand-out performances came from Lyn Paul (Mrs Johnstone) and Sarah Jane Buckley (Mrs Lyons).

The superstition underlying the twins’ fate might be farfetched, but the circumstances leading up to it aren’t, resulting in a poignant, heart-rending finale.