Bonnie and Clyde

August 14, 2019 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆    Folie á deux

Young Critics Scheme review
Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18): Mon 5 – Sat 17 Aug 2019
Review by Iskra Hearn

Thistle N’ Thorn productions has brought Frank Wildhorn’s musical theatre take on the iconic tale of outlaw lovers, Bonnie and Clyde, to the Sweet Grassmarket this fringe.

Everyone knows the story of criminal couple, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barow, and their time spent on the run committing bank robberies, hold ups and murders. However you don’t often hear about the events which led to their spree.

The Cast of Bonnie and Clyde. Pic: Thistle ‘N Thorn

Bonnie and Clyde provides a glimpse into the backgrounds of the famous felons, and how they went from a starry-eyed girl with dreams of Hollywood and a mischievous boy with an ambitious streak, to deadly killers.

Hannah McGregor and Aaron Clason are charming as Bonnie and Clyde. They commit to their performances and are believable as star crossed lovers who can’t bear to be without each other. Clason’s voice is strong and powerful whereas McGregor’s is sweet and emotional and she performs intense songs with ease.

Both McGregor and Clason humanise the characters well and show that despite their violent acts, Bonnie and Clyde were still people who felt guilt, love, fear and excitement just like anyone else.

The setting, during the Great Depression of 1930s America, casts a shadow over the musical as a constant reminder of the desolate surroundings of the characters from which their only means of escape is each other.

There is a moment when Bonnie’s mother (Fiona Wilson) claims she’s afraid Bonnie will die if she stays with Clyde, and Bonnie replies that she and Clyde are the only ones really alive in this town in the first place. Looking at the other characters, Bonnie’s meaning is clear as they seem to be resigned to lives that are mediocre at best, and miserable at worst.

endearing

Clyde’s sister-in-law Blanche (Amber Docherty) is a perfect example of this. She is everything Bonnie and Clyde aren’t: law-abiding, righteous and content to stay where she is forever. If it wasn’t for her husband Buck (Scott Braithwaite), Clyde’s dim but good natured brother, Blanche would never dream of associating with criminals like Bonnie and Clyde.

Doherty and Braithwaite are endearing as Blanche and Buck, they nail the characters’ bickering relationship which often provides comic relief in an otherwise heavy script. Although at first glance the couple seem completely incompatible, as the story progresses it’s obvious how much they love and care for each other.

The show starts with a motivating song from young versions of Bonnie and Clyde (Sophie Gee and Joseph Denvir) about Bonnie’s dreams of being a Hollywood actress and Clyde’s determination to become rich and successful. Throughout the performance during important moments for Bonnie and Clyde their younger selves appear on stage as a reminder of who they used to be. This leaves you questioning whether there was something to be done that could have stopped the couple from turning into killers.

The other performances are generally entertaining, although the Southern accents fail to hold up at times. There are strong performance from James Sharp as Ted Hinton  – a man hopelessly in love with Bonnie – and TJ Connell as The Preacher whose enthusiasm towards church music is slightly terrifying.

The chorus shine in musical numbers such as God’s arms are always open, You’re going back to Jail and Made in America. The live band accompanying the performance impress with their ability to play a range of different and complex songs.

Overall Bonnie and Clyde tells an enjoyable story that makes the lifestyle of an outlaw suddenly sounding appealing. The performances are largely enjoyable, with Hannah McGregor being a joy to watch throughout.

And if the historical accuracy is questionable, Bonnie and Clyde is nonetheless entertaining.

Running time: One hour and 50 minutes (no interval)
Sweet Grassmarket, Apex Grassmarket Hotel, EH1 2HS (Venue 18)
Monday 5 – Sat 17 August 2019
Evenings (not Tue 13): 8.15pm.
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/bonnie-and-clyde

Facebook: @ThistleNThornProductions
Twitter: @ThistleNThornPr

ENDS

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