Review: Bonnie and Clyde - The Musical, King’s Head Theatre, N1

Bonnie & Clyde - Tom Sword & Samantha Louise Clark - photograher John Watts 4

Bonnie & Clyde - Tom Sword & Samantha Louise Clark - photograher John Watts 4 - Credit: Archant

Mythologised even in life, Bonnie and Clyde still captivate. The desire to escape poverty by attaining fame resonates with the present era of austerity and corresponding obsession with celebrity.

But unfortunately for our star crossed lovers the X Factor of their day consisted of robbing banks and liquor stores then hiding from the police in disused amusement parks.

The action starts with grainy photographs of the duo’s bullet-riddled end before cutting back to when Clyde (Tom Sword) first clapped eyes on Bonnie (Samantha Louise Clark) whilst she was waiting tables and dreaming of stardom in the irresistibly named Cement City. Clyde quickly seduces Bonnie into joining the Borrow gang to rob the rich and fund a prison break.

The audience is not exposed to the crime spree. In contrast with the iconic Arthur Penn film of 1967, Linnie Readman’s production resembles a lovefest and not a bloodfest: the focus is of young love in straitened circumstances and the harsh reality of life on the run.

A musical version of the story of Bonnie and Clyde is an attractive idea. Unfortunately, the songs – apart from one cracker about the press making a fortune out of the gang’s gunslinging escapades – lack pizzazz.

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Clark engages as Bonnie initially but overeggs the whimsy and the Southern accent, while Sword lacks substance as Clyde.

However, Emma Jane Martin’s Blanche is sharp-witted, pragmatic and practical in refreshing contrast to the shrieking harpy of the film who the real Blanche likened to a “screaming horse’s ass.”

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Contemporary photographs of the gang smoking cigars and toting their weapons are an effective device and Becky Evans’ depression era costumes are great.

A little disappointing given the rich material but there is enough to hold the attention.

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