Review: Bonnie and Clyde, Eastern Edge Theatre Company, St Peter’s by the Waterfront, Ipswich, to July 15
- Credit: Archant
The youth company’s final show of 2017, the last for a while actually with many of the cast moving on to drama school; like the title characters they went out guns blazing.
This is the regional premiere of Frank Wildhorn’s Tony-nominated show. It’s a story of love, adventure and crime that captured the attention of an entire nation as two small-town nobodies become America’s most renowned folk heroes and Texas law enforcement’s worst nightmares.
The show was meant to be the group’s first, leading to the winning directing partnership of Charlie Pittman and Stephen Bell. They’ve spent the past year honing the piece and it shows.
Originally set at the height of the Great Depression in late 1920s / early 1930s America, it’s been transported to a more contemporary setting which brings timely themes like our obsession with celebrity, fame and legacy to the fore.
It also means choreographer Beth Rumbellow could incorporate styles not used in the original Broadway production including commercial, contemporary and jazz to dynamic and interesting effect. It was clever how the ensemble, who played a multitude of supporting roles, assumed the forms of cars, prison room furniture, etc.
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The show was visually arresting, the simple stage transformed by smart lighting choices punctuated by nice physical theatre touches.
Coming to the musical fresh, I fell instantly in love with the songs - from the hilarious You’re Goin’ Back to Jail to the heartbreaking Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad.
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The acting, singing, dancing and music was strong throughout.
The central coupling of Charlotte Sheehan as the vulnerable yet ego-driven Bonnie Parker and Charlie Pittman as the decreasingly cocksure Clyde Barrow was electric.
There was fantastic support from Tom Winder as Clyde’s brother Buck, Evie White as Clyde’s sister-in-law Blanche and Nathan Cant - the standout for me in IODS’ production of Oklohoma - as Ted, the cop pining for Bonnie long after he’s already lost her. Boy can Jeanie Hackman as The Preacher sing gospel. She took everyone to heaven.
It didn’t end as I thought it would, which made it all the more poignant.