Fringe Box



Stage Review: Bonnie & Clyde, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 29 Feb, 2024
Updated on: 29 Feb, 2024

By Ferenc Hepp

The classic tale, Bonnie & Clyde, direct from the West End, is the offering at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this week.

It is the musical version, with lyrics by Don Black and music by Frank Wildhorn, and this production is directed and choreographed by Nick Winston.

Katie Tonkinson and Alex James-Hatton in Bonnie & Clyde. Picture: Richard Davenport.

We are in Depression-era Texas in the 1930s, a young Bonnie Parker falls in love with Clyde Barrow, a criminal on the run from the law.

Their love affair soon spirals out of control, as Bonnie & Clyde commit a series of bank robberies. As their notoriety and body count rises, the ill-fated lovers find themselves racing to the top of the public enemies list. 

Philip Witcomb’s set design is a fitting backdrop, capturing the essence of the era with an atmospheric colour scheme and a well-framed stage that isn’t overly cluttered. However, some technical issues affect the experience, particularly with a follow spot that frequently misses its mark, leaving Bonnie in the shadows.

However, the quality of Frank Wildhorn’s music shines through, providing a dramatic and vocally interesting backdrop that suits the story perfectly.

Unfortunately, the balance between the orchestra and the cast is out of balance, with the music occasionally drowning out the actors’ voices, making it difficult to fully engage with the performances.

Alex James-Hatton at Clyde. Picture: Richard Davenport.

Alex James-Hatton brings charm and charisma to the role of Clyde, eliciting sympathy from the audience, but Katie Tonkinson’s portrayal of Bonnie falls short of convincing.

While both actors possess strong singing voices, Tonkinson’s lack of character depth and emotional range detracts from the chemistry between the two leads.

When Bonnie says: “I’m in love Mamma. I want to believe it more than I do”, I was not convinced.

The chemistry was more evident after the interval. The introduction of Buck and Blanche, played by Sam Ferriday and Catherine Tyldesley, injects much-needed energy into the production.

Ferriday’s portrayal of Buck, while perhaps too friendly for a fugitive, pales in comparison to Tyldesley’s captivating performance as Blanche.

Jaz Ellington as the Preacher. Picture: Richard Davenport.

Tyldesley brings a delightful mix of energy, humour, and authenticity to the character, standing out as a highlight amidst the cast.

There is also good support from Daniel Reid-Walters, Jaz Ellington and the other members of the ensemble, with a highly energetic and enjoyable God’s Arms Are Always Open number lead by Ellington as the Preacher.

Act Two has many highlights and a poignant score, including a strong opening number; Made in America followed by a good variety of well performed individual solos and duets. 

However, there were still a lot of technical issues which could not be ignored. Some of the projection had to be turned off as it was flickering, and the set had some flaws, which was disappointing for a West End production. Hopefully these will be addressed and sorted urgently.

Despite its flaws, Bonnie & Clyde manages to captivate its audience, evident from the enthusiastic response and full standing ovation from a young audience at the end of the performance.

Katie Tonkinson and Alex James-Hatton in Bonnie & Clyde. Picture: Richard Davenport.

While the production shows promise, urgent attention to its shortcomings is necessary to fully realise its potential.

It would be interesting to see it again later in the tour to hopefully see these improvements in place and the alternate cast to see if they bring a different dimension to a story that could have contributed to a more polished and compelling theatrical experience.

Bonnie & Clyde runs until Saturday, March 2 and tickets are available via or 01483 440000.

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