Bonnie and Clyde: A Review
Liverpool University Student Theatre presents an emotional stage performance dramatising the plight of this 1930s criminal duo at the height of the Great Depression. They bring back to life two infamous offenders, Bonnie and Clyde, who are remembered for being one of the most well-known criminal couples in history. Whilst on the surface, gun crazed Clyde and his partner in crime Bonnie Parker are undeniable villains, LUST probes into their past, bringing to surface their humane side. Alongside their violence, the production team explores their familial love and their dreams and ambitions. This altogether makes for a tense yet enthralling crime drama by its all-singing cast who punctuate the musical with laughs here and there for a distraction from the intense tale.
The curtains are drawn back, revealing a car in the darkened centre stage. In it lie the unconscious American criminals; blue flashes illuminate around them like ambulance lights, except there is no ambulance to help them. The tale may have skipped straight to their fatal end, but the night has only just begun…
The musical explores the parallel ambitious nature of Bonnie and Clyde. Amidst the very bleak landscape of America following the Wall Street Crash in 1929, Clyde wanted an escape from this, pursuing a very reckless lifestyle as he defied the law by killing and stealing wherever he went.
Clyde thinks violence is the key to freedom: Ain’t nothing I can’t do with a gun
The musical draws upon how Bonnie Parker was instead inspired by the 1920s silent film actress Clara Bow, who was known for her glamour and seductive wiles. In the musical, Bonnie is often seen writing poetry or practising for her debut with the song How ‘Bout a Dance. Her character is desperate to be a poet, singer or an actress, anything just so she can escape her unfulfilling life as a waitress. Her commanding vocals struck a chord with me as they exposed her deepest desires, managing to successfully play the sympathy card despite the immoral deeds that she committed.
Brotherly love is a significant aspect of the musical. Clyde and Buck bond in the nontraditional sense, over stealing cars, but it is easy to forget that their shared love is over a crime as when all the instruments in the band play they elicit such contagious passion. The saxophone particularly quickens the pace which I thought was a great representation of the car’s speed in their getaways.
More light-hearted scenes are dispersed amongst robberies and shootings. The script may stray away from the truth with the hairdresser scene and with the priest character, but these additions invite laughs, making the horrendous real life version more digestible and even more captivating. The scene in the hairdressers is packed with witty one-liners from three wives who are sat waiting at the beauty parlour. The regular appearance of the priest is another entertaining addition, whose lively songs and dance sequences and a jolly keyboard to boot juxtaposed with the front stage when Clyde is getting sent back to prison – yet again.
Full of suspense and delay whilst following the dangerous lengths that Clyde goes to to escape capture, which Bonnie soon becomes a part of too, the play ends in their inevitable demise. With LUST depicting Bonnie and Blanche’s emotional turmoil as they became too involved in crime to be able to escape, I left the theatre feeling almost strangely saddened, which goes to show just how convincing the actors were.
LUST’s next performance will be of 9 to 5, which will run from Thursday 7th December to Saturday 9th December 2017. Tickets are available from https://www.liverpoolguild.org/groups/liverpool-university-student-theatre-lust/events/lust-presents-9-to-5.