Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical at the King’s Head Theatre
As ever when considering a work of musical theatre, the age-old “triple threat” is thrown into question. Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical had its opening night on 29th August in the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, and despite the strong musical score, powerful voices on all accounts and the wide range of dance talent, the acting was left painfully neglected in some key roles.
The set was clever, simple and for the most part very effective. Most of the props and costume seemed authentic, but between WD’s unconvincing attire and Sheriff Hamer’s clip-on braces accompanied by a modern belt, there were slip-ups. The ladies’ costumes were gorgeous, and the infamous Bonnie Parker dress/beret combo was executed brilliantly. The use of the original photographs projected on the back flats of the set was bold, but nonetheless effective in addressing the reality of their plight.
The performances themselves were varied to say the least. Blanche Barrow (Emma-Jane Martin) was fiercely strong and unfaltering throughout; her stage relationship with Buck Barrow (Anthony Jardine) was flawless, easily outstripping the focal love story of Bonnie Parker (Samantha Louise Clark) and Clyde Barrow (Tom Sword), the latter of whom seemed perpetually nervous. Bonnie and Clyde’s relationship was wooden and forced, despite Clark’s powerful solo efforts, whereas Blanche and Buck’s was heart-wrenchingly detailed. WD Jones (Christopher Burr) could have been a much-needed catalyst for drama, but instead wasted the potential for tension with Clyde and was unpersuasive aside from his adoration of Bonnie.
Oddly, all of the characters were portrayed as the good guys, to the extent that even the dubious Sheriff Ted Hinton (Gary Tushaw) was seeking to gain sympathy from the audience. The lack of an obvious villain and the forced amicability of every character left the performance lacking in emotion. The entire cast suffered from a fear of stillness and silence – traits that could have been used to great effect.
The show has promise and should develop into something more substantial than it is currently. The concept is strong and the musical elements enjoyable, especially the live pieces on stage. Unfortunately, the play is still in its infancy and needs development in all areas for its cast to achieve triple threat status.
Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical is at the King’s Head Theatre until 21st September 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.