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Bonnie & Clyde | Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

The story of Bonnie and her Clyde is one which has been told time and time again throughout the years, each time highlighting their homicidal tendencies, whilst maintaining a romantic element to it. Although this show by Ivan Menchell seems to retain some darker aspects of their personalities, it wildly romanticises their story, painting the pair as a desperate couple who fell upon hard times during the Great Depression. Despite these historical inaccuracies seeming rather problematic to those aware of the details of the real Bonnie and Clyde’s story, the music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black may be quick to win them over.

Delivered by a masterful cast, the show’s music is sure to have something for musical fans and novices alike, comprising of an eclectic mix of heartfelt ballads and Americana, both somewhat suggestive of an early 1930s-time frame, whilst also retaining a contemporary essence with its rock, country, and pop numbers. The show’s score also carries an underlying melody, being the first melody that the audience hears as the curtain rises on Bonnie and Clyde’s dead bodies, but also its last, whilst acting as a constant eerie reminder of the couple’s fate throughout the show. Although it would be practically impossible to choose a favourite number in this show as every song brings something new and different to the table, Alex James-Hatton’s performance of ‘Raise a Little Hell’ and Katie Tonkinson’s

Dying Ain’t So Bad’ were certainly highlights of the night, alongside James-Hatton's and Sam

Ferriday’s exciting ‘When I Drive.

The cast itself are simply stellar, welcoming Alex James-Hatton and Katie Tonkinson in the roles of Clyde and Bonnie, respectively, as well as Sam Ferriday and Catherine Tyldesley playing Marvin ‘Buck’ Barrow and his wife Blanche Barrow. Clyde Barrow is an ambitious and driven character, ready to stop at nothing to become famous like Billy the Kid and Al Capone, leading to reckless acts eventually causing his downfall. James-Hatton brought a welcomed innocence and comedic nature to the role, whilst maintaining a hard-headed spirit, matched by impressive vocal performances. Similarly, Bonnie Parker is a bold and daring lover, driven by her plans to become like Clara Bow and get her face up on the silver screens. Tonkinson’s Bonnie is a strong woman who does not let herself be walked over by others – she knows what she wants, and she isn’t afraid to fight for it. As well as bringing about a naivety and innocence, she conveys that strength in all aspects of her performance, proving that she has that ‘It’ girl way about her.

Sam Ferriday delivers a strong performance as Marvin ‘Buck’ Barrow, Clyde’s older brother and partner in crime. Despite sharing the drive and ambition with his brother, Buck often finds himself torn between loving his brother and the ‘thrill of the game,’ and wanting for a life with his wife. With a powerful vocal performance, Ferriday played on those nuances very effectively, making his character a loveable and memorable one. Opposite Ferriday, Tyldesley's character is God-fearing and law abiding, making her match with Buck rather unusual. Tyldesley’s performance was marvellous, delivering great vocal performances and an even greater personality through her interactions with every character, most notably with Bonnie herself. A special mention must be given to Jasmine Beel. Her multi-rolling of Stella and Emma Parker (Bonnie’s mother) was exemplary and her performances in both contrasting roles simply sublime, managing to make the audience laugh but also to bring them to tears.

The show also brings about simplistic, yet memorable sets, all synonymous with the desperation of the people at the time, leaning into the darker tones, foreshadowing the dark ending for Bonnie and Clyde (sounds better than Clyde and Bonnie, don’t you think?). Bullet holes in the walls and bloodied American flags, those are only some of the examples of the way in which the story’s end was foreshadowed from the moment the audience enters the theatre.

Despite some slight issues with tech tonight, namely problems with the backgrounds that sometimes did not seem to work or show up entirely and some problems with the microphones, the cast’s performance never faltered, as they were quick to deal with these small inevitable issues. This was a true testament to the strength of the ensemble as their performances all weaved in together like a perfect tapestry.

Overall, this show is one to look out for as it travels through the UK until late October of this year. Between the powerhouse performances delivered by the cast and the overall production, this show is one that is sure to be remembered. The show will stay in Guildford at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre until Saturday 2nd of March, before travelling to Wolverhampton to continue the tour. More information and tickets can be found here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Richard Davenport


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