Bonnie & Clyde blast into the West End
Bonnie & Clyde (Garrick Theatre, London)
Verdict: Melodic bloodbath ★★★✩✩
THE reality of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s bulletspattered and blood- soaked road trip of legend was surely a lot grubbier than this new musical, which has finally shot its way into the West End.
Yet the dubious romance of two killers pursued by armed cops in 1930s depression- era America is never allowed to get in the way of a good story.
There are some terrific ( if slightly generic) tunes rattled out, thanks to veteran lyricist Don Black (he of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard and the Bond theme Diamonds Are Forever), as well as a versatile score by Frank Wildhorn that
runs the gamut of modern American musical idioms from rag to rock.
The frustrations of the titular young Texans in their early 20s are quickly established with jazz-era pastiche, Picture Show.
There’s a Country and Western twang to Going Back To Jail, before Clyde breaks out thereof with his hard rock anthem Raise A Little Hell. And there’s even a Gospel themed number — God’s Arms — to hold out a thin prospect of redemption.
As Bonnie, the waitress who dreams of being a poet, Frances Mayli McCann has a voice to remember. She veers between Norah Jones and Tammy Wynette as she puts an impertinent slant on standing by your man.
Jordan Luke Gage is no slouch either as Clyde, the dapper youth who wins Bonnie with ‘plans not dreams’.
The couple’s story is mirrored in the fate of Clyde’s brother and sister- in- law, but Nick Winston’s snappy production maintains a judicious ambivalence about any attempt to gloss its heroes’ crimes.
Although the lighting is dingy below a bullet- riddled proscenium arch, youthful swagger and passion ensure this musical sings.