Bonnie & Clyde: Arts Theatre, London
13th April 2022 (preview performance)
Following on from the hugely successful concert version of Bonnie & Clyde, which was shown at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in January 2022, this full scale production has been highly anticipated. The Broadway show has taken over 10 years to finally have its West End debut and here it is with no holding back. This production is superb, with a rousing score and hugely talented cast.
Bonnie & Clyde features a book and score by the incredibly talented Ivan Menchell, Don Black and Frank Wildhorn and their much loved show is in safe hands with this talented cast. Jordan Luke Gage manages to show all of Clyde’s hard, confident exterior whilst also allowing the audience to see him at his more vulnerable side. Vocally, Gage impresses throughout, with ‘Raise a Little Hell‘ being real show stopper moment in the show. His onstage relationship with his brother Buck, played by George Maguire, is also excellent with their duet ‘When You Drive‘ being particularly strong. Reprising her role from the recent concert version, Frances Mayli McCann plays Bonnie brilliantly. She shows Bonnie’s journey from sweet and innocent waitress to one half of one of the world’s most wanted couple excellently. The energy between McCann and Gage is enigmatic and passionate – just as you’d expect. Throughout the show her vocals are outstanding, in particular during the moving song ‘Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad‘ and with Gage in ‘This World Will Remember Us‘. Also reviving her role is Natalie McQueen as Blanche. McQueen’s comic ability shines through adding light relief to a tense story. During the song ‘You Love Who You Love‘ McQueen’s and McCann’s voices match beautifully to create something really special. Blanche’s relationship with Buck is more than just just there for comedy though, she truly loves him and will do anything for him and McQueen’s portrayal of this, particularly in Buck’s final moments is superb. Cleve September is superb as Ted, whose character benefits from a newly written song ‘Here in our Hearts‘. The entire cast are outstanding and completely suited to their roles. The role of Young Bonnie and Young Clyde is shared between several performers but the two cast members Aiya Agustin and Finn Barwell, seen during this performance were excellent.
Bonnie & Clyde does not romanticise or promote what the couple did. However, it does give the audience a bit of context and scope as to who they really were and how they ended up two of America’s most notorious criminals. The cleverly designed set by Philip Witcomb, really takes the audience members back to the 1930’s with the decorations spilling out into the auditorium. The attention to detail in both the props adorning the walls and the costumes is second to none and really helps set the scene. Fans of the Broadway show will be pleased to see the bath tub scene and iconic car remain in this production. In fact, for such a small theatre there is a lot of set/scenery changes and the moving set pieces work well. The use of a projection, by Nina Dunn, is a very good additional touch to really help set the scene and show the gravity of the situation. At times the backstage movement of props could be heard, but this is a minor flaw of what is an outstanding production. Zoe Spurr’s lighting is tremendous. Just the right mix of light and shade to emphasise the hardships of the time and the true threat that Bonnie and Clyde were under. The special effects, particularly the gun shots worked excellently to bring their story to life.
Bonnie & Clyde is an excellent production. The exceptional cast, along with brilliant direction from Nick Winston means that Bonnie and Clyde’s story will live on, something they always dreamt of. With such a limited run, this production is sure to sell quickly so make sure you race to the Arts Theatre to catch a piece of the action.
Bonnie & Clyde is playing at the Arts Theatre until the 10th July 2022. For information and tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Richard Davenport