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REVIEW: Bonnie & Clyde at The Palace Theatre

Nick Winston's award-winning cult-sensation at The Palace Theatre plays fast and loose with the 1967 original.

At the height of the Great Depression, young waitress Bonnie Parker falls deeply in love with fugitive Clyde Barrow. Their bold and reckless love affair soon spirals out of control, turning their thrilling adventure into a harrowing race against fate as they resort to bank heists and violence to survive.

Alluring, ruthless and thrilling, Bonnie & Clyde (nothing rhymes with Clyde & Bonnie) is an electrifying story of love, adventure and crime that captured the attention of an entire nation.

The infamous duo is played fantastically by Alex James-Hatton and Katie Tonkinson; both of whom absolutely wowed us with their outstanding vocal skills and unrivalled chemistry. James-Hatton as a charismatic, cocky Clyde succinctly captured his character's equivocal and psychopathic nature while Tonkinson's portrayal of an ambitious, flirty Bonnie was flawless as she explored the change from an innocent girl to Clyde's accomplice in her own right.

Catherine Tyldesley and Sam Ferriday shine in the roles of Clyde's ex-con older brother Buck and his wife Blanche. They completely juxtaposed Bonnie and Clyde's fast-paced, fearless lifestyle but also somehow managed to always get caught up in the impulsive decisions Clyde made.

Tyldesley's heartbreaking rendition of "God's Arms Are Always Open (Reprise)" was hauntingly beautiful and effortless, undoubtedly one of my favourite numbers of the night despite it being a much slower, solo piece.

I also adored the gospel-rock original version of the song in Act 1, with AJ Lewis as the Preacher being a standout role for me.

He exuded pure joy and truly brought an extra layer to the show, offering us a stark contrast to the darker storyline the show follows and bringing wonderful tones in a nuanced performance that really rounded the production. 

The use of pictures being projected onto the back of the set was also a great asset, which I've seen more and more of in recent performances, and using snaps of the real Bonnie and Clyde elevated the show even more, adding a somewhat shocking factor and serving as a reminder that these two criminals were very real people.

One of my favourite things about the show was the fact that the focus wasn't placed on the law enforcement or the manhunt or the media frenzy. Instead, it centred on the journey of two outsiders striving to endure against all odds. At its core, it's a love story with Bonnie and Clyde both feeling unseen until they found each other.

The musical aims to unravel the intricacies of their transformation into notorious criminals, urging audiences to consider what led them there rather than simply condemn their actions.

It's a riveting piece of work, so excellently executed, that you won't want to miss. Get your tickets for Bonnie & Clyde at The Palace Theatre here: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bonnie-and-clyde/palace-theatre-manchester/.

 

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