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Newark Advertiser review of Bonnie & Clyde musical and the Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Romantic outlaws or ruthless criminals? Bonnie and Clyde are the stars of the show in this killer musical.

Hot on the coat tails of a celebrated stay in London’s West End, Bonnie & Clyde comes to Nottingham’s Theatre Royal with all the drama and charm you’d expect from a period production.

Stylish and fun, but most of all full of passion, this show is something to be remembered and one that leaves you almost rooting for the ‘bad guys’.

Bonnie & Clyde Production Photos: Richard Davenport.
Bonnie & Clyde Production Photos: Richard Davenport.

The musical follows the story of two small-town kids from the back end of nowhere, who grew up to become celebrated folk heroes across depression era America in the early 1930s.

But behind the romanticism of their carefree lawlessness hides a cruel violence which is often overlooked when discussing these cult figures.

Clyde Barrow grew up idolising the legends of the old west such as Billy the Kid and Jesse James, for the freedom that he lacked — hoping to break free from a society that he viewed as holding him down.

Bonnie Parker is an ambitious young woman, working as a waitress, but with a passion for poetry and dreams of becoming a star with her face in newspapers and magazines.

After love at first sight, together their wishes would come true — but they also set out on a road which would ultimately end with the barrel of a gun and riddled with bullets.

It takes place amid a back drop of turmoil and upheaval in the country following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which sent the economy into a nose dive.

The banks are evicting people from their homes, jobs are few and far between, heavy handed policemen enforce the laws of the land by any means necessary, and there is a growing mistrust of those in power.

In steps Bonnie and Clyde, the pair that went on to capture the hearts of the nation, hitting the open road, robbing banks from state to state, and were seen as sticking it to ‘the man’.

But behind the newspaper headlines was a trail of destruction which left at least 13 people dead, most of them police officers.

Bonnie & Clyde Production Photos: Richard Davenport.
Bonnie & Clyde Production Photos: Richard Davenport.

A stand out moment from the show is when the pair exclaim “this world will remember us”. For good or bad the world has remembered them, and this show too leaves a lasting impression.

The soundtrack is excellent, with gospel, blues, jazz and swing helping to transport the audience back in time and giving everything a lively and exciting bounce.

But in the quieter moments between our titular characters, played by Alex James-Hatton and Katie Tonkinson, we find a real and emotive connection.

The love between the pair, no matter how toxic and physical it can get, feels genuine and full credit goes to the leads for selling such a gripping narrative.

Both characters are flawed and struggling to get by, and the story is a great example of how far people will go when society turns its back on them.

I really enjoyed this show, even if it played into the romanticised and fictional vision of a couple that would become legend.

It only scratched the surface of a story that disguised Bonnie and Clyde’s cruelty behind layers of love and passion and the anti-hero image of being an outlaw

But within all that are the questions, why conform? Why not follow your passions? But most of all, if you can’t get to heaven, why not raise a little hell? — FB

Bonnie & Clyde is playing at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until this Saturday (May 18).

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