Bonnie and Clyde, Arts Theatre | Review

Thursday, 19 May 2022


Bonnie and Clyde
Arts Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 18th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

After over a decade of waiting, Frank Wildhorn, Don Black and Ivan Menchell's Bonnie and Clyde has finally entered the West End and has done so with a bang. Telling the story of the eponymous duo who became outlaws before being killed together, the romanticised musical is exciting and features some of the strongest performances seen in a long time.

Based on the semi-true story, we follow Bonnie and Clyde from their childhood dreams (her to be a movie star like Clara Bow, and he to be an outlaw like Billy the Kid) to their first flukey meeting, their following life of crime and eventually their downfall and death. Running in parallel to this story is an unrequited love plot as well as some glimpses into the economic depression of the time which highlight why turning to crime was in some ways, necessary, at least for the Barrow Brothers.

At times the book is a little jumbled and some things are over explained, whilst others lack a little development. However, it is equally brilliant in its comedy, especially in the snarky exchanges between Blanche and Bonnie. Aside from the few issues, this is a really wonderful production that is spirited and exudes intensity. As the leading characters, Frances Mayli McCann and Jordan Luke Gage completely own the stage. McCann is a certified star and she brings her clear as glass vocals to life in ballads such as Dyin' Ain't So Bad and she also gives a brilliantly dynamic portrayal as Bonnie. Gage is charming and terrifying in equal measure and vocally her fires on all cylinders. Raise A Little Hell is a complete roof raiser that is powerful, thrilling and aggressive. Together the pair balance one another well and are realistic in their juvenile, all encompassing love story. The sizzling chemistry grows from their first meeting and remains so until the very last second.


The entirety of the small cast are equally strong, with Natalie McQueen giving the most hilarious performance as God-fearing Blanche Barrow. You're Goin' Back To Jail is absolutely hilarious and she imbues every moment with wit, even down to her out of time clapping which is brief but wonderful. Alongside her comedy masterclass, she also brings a more mellow moment in the duet You Love Who You Love which is outstanding. As with much of the show, it's the tight harmonies which really bring the house down and have the audience enraptured. George Maguire is also strong as Buck Barrow and Cleve September nicely balances the hostility of Clyde with his smooth and calmer vocals. 

As well as the performances, the set by Philip Witcomb takes on a life of its own and makes the Arts feel so much bigger than it is. The set is ambitious and impressive and coupled with great projections bu Nina Dunn and sound design by Tom Marshall make the whole show a real spectacle.

Nick Winston has done an outstanding job with this production and it's so wonderful that it's finally getting the run it deserves. How bout' you dance your way to the Arts Theatre and grab yourself a ticket for this theatrical jewel.

photo credit: Richard Davenport

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