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Bonnie and Clyde - Garrick Theatre Review

 Writer: Bethany Hill

A tale of infamous, thieving criminals set to a musical score from the writers of Sunset Boulevard and Jekyll and Hyde (Don Black and Frank Wildhorn)? Not an obvious choice for a musical that’s for sure, however a show that has won Best New Musical at The WhatsOnStage Awards and many a five star review. Here’s another to add to that list!

Bonnie and Clyde tells the story of Bonnie Barker and Clyde Barrow and their rise to fame and condemnation as murderous thieves doomed to a tragic ending that is revealed right at the show’s opening. We then get a glimpse into the pair’s respective childhoods. Young Bonnie begins with Picture Show, where she reveals her dreams to become a famous actress in motion pictures as she sweeps the front steps of her small town home. In contrast, a young Clyde reveals his ambition to become an outlaw and shoot guns like Billy the Kid, immediately revealing the contrast between Barker’s initial innocence and Barrow’s worrying start to life. It is clear that they share one thing; a thirst for freedom and to be remembered.

Frances Mayli McCann 'Bonnie' and Jordan Luke Gage 'Clyde'. Photo by The Other Richard.

Clyde quickly moves on to begin his life of crime, captured alongside his brother Buck Barrow for armed robbery. When the pair escape jail, a charismatic Clyde meets and wins the heart of Bonnie so she whisks him away in her getaway car. Bonnie and Clyde quickly become partners in crime until he is caught and returned to prison, unlike his brother who has been persuaded by his god-fearing wife Blanche to turn himself in. In prison, Clyde is subjected to physical beating and there are allusions to sexual assault that become the turning point for Barrow. The song Raise a Little Hell at this point in the story brings a clear character shift and leaves the audience with chills. When Bonnie helps to break out Clyde a second time, the pair then begin their tumultuous life of crime and fame and towards their fateful end.

The London cast at this production was led by the incredible Jordan Luke Gage (&Juliet) and Francis Mayli McCann (Heathers) who had such electric chemistry and brought to these horrific historic characters emotional depth; at times, their love felt hopeful and their connection real despite the consequences. Alongside them, Jodie Steele (Heathers) and George Maguire (Sunny Afternoon) played the contrasting couple of Buck and Blanche Barrow, who had arguably an equally tragic love story with different circumstances. The four principles led their talented cast with such heart and left you wondering if perhaps right and wrong isn’t as obvious as you’d think. Their portrayals showed the downfall of humanity in such a gradual and realistic way that you’d be forgiven for empathising with these criminals.

The musical score of Bonnie and Clyde is perfectly fitting with the tone of the show. Gage’s Raise a Little Hell was spine-chilling and brings a perfect tonal shift part-way through the first act. I was also blown away by Raise a Little Hell, Reprise which also featured Buck and Ted; the harmonies here were to die for! A second favourite of mine was the duet of Bonnie and Blanche, You Love Who You Love. My heart ached for these women and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Georgie Maguire 'Buck' and Jodie Steele 'Blanche'. Photo by The Other Richard.

The production on this show was perfectly fitting for the tone of the show, beginning with a gunshot projected onto screen. The set design lended itself perfectly to the storytelling with a prison-like, minimalist atmosphere. There were minimal props however the projections of real black and white photos of Bonnie and Clyde were used powerfully to remind you that this was indeed a true story.

Directed by Nick Winston, Bonnie and Clyde was a stand out of a show and an easy 5 star review for me. I was sad to see it close in London just a week after I saw the performance, however never fear! Bonnie and Clyde the musical is embarking on a UK tour in 2024 beginning at Leicester Curve on 22 February. You can get your tickets here Are you ready to raise a little hell?


Dom Hartley-Harris and the company. Photo by The Other Richard.

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