Bonnie & Clyde

Direct from its runs in London’s West End, ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ is back with a bang and on the run across the UK in 2024.

A captivating fusion of history, romance, and tragedy, the staged production offers a fresh perspective on the notorious duo's escapades. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the audience is immersed in the gritty reality of the era, while exploring the deeply human motivations which drive our anti-heroes, Bonnie Parker (Katie Tonkinson) and Clyde Barrow (Alex James-Hatton) on their murderous mission for fame and notoriety. Caught up in their web of corruption is Clyde’s ever-doting brother, Buck (Sam Ferriday) and his devout wife Blanche (played superbly by television favourite, Catherine Tyldesley).

What the infamous couple sometimes lack in crackling on-stage chemistry is made up for in vocal gusto as the pair flip and riff their way through Frank Wildhorn’s cult score with a sense of liberation that their counterparts so longed for. Built upon a backdrop of the 1930s, Wildhorn’s music ricochets between the stylings of blues, gospel and rockabilly. It packs a punch in its more riotous numbers, but surprisingly finds a sense of home in its beautiful, if somewhat samey, balladry. Perhaps the highlight of the evening comes in the form of a duet between Tonkinson and Tyldesley whose velvety harmonies ripple across the auditorium during the heart-breaking, ‘You Love Who You Love’.

Though the score occasionally hinders the pace, the intensity of the piece is amped up by an ensemble cast who are relentless throughout the entire performance. Multiple roles are played to great success. Jasmine Beel commands her stage time with tangible vulnerability as Bonnie’s widowed mother, Emma Parker, before switching into her next role at the pull of a trigger. The energy reverberating about the stage is palpable during their gospel infused church numbers and aligns perfectly with Nick Winston’s slickly executed choreography. Tyldesley’s Blanche is a sure-fire hit. Perfectly angled, she hits the sweet spot- a fully rounded character without ever growing into caricature. This, infused with hauntingly beautiful vocals, is well deserving of the ovation given at the end of the performance. It must also be said that Tyldesley’s moments with Ferriday layer heart and chemistry throughout the piece- a satisfying softness that is so necessary.

Upscaled from its humble roots, Philp Witcomb’s set design has every intention of delivering grandeur in spade loads. Paired with Nina Dunn’s stylishly moody (if somewhat cliched) video design, it does as it intends, yet partly to the detriment of some of the smaller set pieces, which may have felt more at home in the limited confines of its original home of the Arts Theatre. Although the crimes committed by Bonnie and Clyde are somewhat trivialised, it is hard not to root for the duo, particularly when photographs of the real-life pair are projected subtly, yet effectually, into the background.

True crime. True Love. Their Story- ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ may not be without its flaws, but it cannot be denied that audience will be transported on a thrilling ride and treated to some criminally good performances along the way.

This show was reviewed on the 7th May 2024 at the Palace Theatre, Manchester where it runs until the 11th May 2024.  Tickets available here: Bonnie & Clyde Tickets | Palace Theatre Manchester in Manchester | ATG Tickets

Review written by Lee Gregory


Photo credit: Richard Davenport

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