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Review: Bonnie & Clyde (Tour)


After gaining almost as big of a cult status as the outlandish outlaws it’s based on, the fan-favourite production of Bonnie & Clyde has hit the open road. It takes you on a wild ride - be sure to buckle in.

Photo by Richard Davenport

With convinced indestructibility, Alex James-Hatton (Clyde) and Katie Tonkinson (Bonnie) peruse Philip Witcomb’s set with ease. Their confidence manifests in a swagger, as they lock eyes and lips, and load their guns. Split into three segments; the back, middle and front, the stage feels like watching an old film reel being slotted into a camera. Set pieces move in stop-motion, the lighting flickering for a moment, as if capturing a fleeting, yet immortalised, moment. The star spangled banner of the American flag splatters as easily as blood across looming backdrops that stretch from the height of the stage. Piercing lighting shoots through bullet holes. Under Nick Winston’s direction, this Bonnie & Clyde is a roaring beast.

The songs come thick and fast. Frank Wildhorn’s and Don Black’s score is whiskey tinged, rollicking between bluegrass and blues in emotional turmoil. The band, directed by Issie Osborne, pour everything into the performance. But, with so many numbers (many falling to the wayside under the shadows of the big swingers), the mix often drowns out the vocals. Despite this, Catherine Tyldesley (in an impressive stage debut) sings soulfully as the all-American do-gooder Blanche, and Jaz Ellington adds some gospel to proceedings as Preacher. It’s a knee-slapping time.

Tonkinson’s Bonnie is what cinnamon is to her famed apple pie - her Southern Belle act has a twang. It’s a role written wonderfully by Ivan Menchell, with hopefulness that verges on delusion. But still, you root for her. Clyde is equally as interesting - a dark, monstrous side that Hatton fully lets roar by “Raise A Little Hell”. Special mention goes to those behind the wigs, hair and make up team - who create gooey gunshot wounds and sunken eyes as easily as 1930s it girl glamour. Together our anti-heroes are a devious duo that you can’t take your eyes off.

To fully appreciate the scale of the production, you need a seat front and centre. The Barrow brother’s jail break is like wearing a VR headset (Nina Dunn’s video throughout is seriously fun taking us behind bars and on open roads) and the all-consuming lighting (Zoe Spurr’s design is thrilling) focuses at the centre of the stage where much of the action plays at the back and on the ground. It feeds the nuances of the show - the gritty determination of “I Can Drive” with choreography that requires core strength from Hatton and Sam Ferriday (a charming Buck), and the quieter, tender moments from Daniel Reid-Walters - often alone and reflective as Ted Hinton.

It’s ravishing, sugar. That’s as sure as a smoking gun.


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