Adam Peck’s theatrical realisation of the infamous story of Bonnie and Clyde certainly gives the audience food for thought. Good job I was peckish.
This was not a performance for those wishing to have a light and fluffy theatre experience – as it required concentration. Despite the humour present in the interaction between the (only) two characters, it’s a story that deals with murder, crime and the enigma of love which can drive those involved to do things they may never have imagined.
Catherine McKinnon and Eoin Slattery play the eponymous characters and carry the production remarkably well – taking into account the fact they are doing all the carrying. The chemistry between the two as a couple is believable and the relationship they craft for the audience is complex as well as fragile. I was particularly impressed with McKinnon, whose portrayal of Bonnie was strong and independent; frequently wielding guns and chatting about the murders they committed and the bullet holes they gained as if she were discussing whether to have chicken or fish for dinner. However, when it came to her Clyde, she was insecure, weak and somewhat desperate. Just another innocent young woman yearning for the man she loved to really love her back – and I think that is something nearly all the women in the audience could relate to. It made me wonder whether, if it wasn’t for Clyde and the love she felt for him Bonnie would never have become involved in this fugitive, illicit world. Out of the two, it seemed to be Clyde who really felt the weight of the acts they were committing . We heard disturbing descriptions of deaths and murders – most probably ones he had committed himself – from the point of view of the victim. It was an interesting insight into Clyde’s state of mind; an introvert, emotional reaction to the life he and Bonnie were leading.
Soliloquies punctuated the action throughout the performance adding a poignant element to the humour and playful banter – artfully reminding the audience that underneath the joking and the laughter there still lurked serious issues that needed to be addressed, and that the repercussions of their actions were just around the corner.
The well designed set and eerie music and lighting added to the murky atmosphere of the story. Discordant yet well-placed music would sound out at key moments, and the lighting would switch to ethereal blue at a moment’s notice, swathing the pitiful, unmade mattress in a strange gloom – creating the feeling that we were watching a ghost story; which I suppose, in a way, we were.
The Fairground production of Bonnie and Clyde is a well thought-out, excellently executed piece of theatre under the guiding hand of Tid’s direction. The characters (although in possession of slightly patchy deep-south US accents) were sensitive and respectful of the roles they were entrusted with. They were also extremely captivating and it was as if there was an invisible string tied between the actors and the audience; if they moved: we moved. We followed them on their volatile emotional journey and came out of it pensive and philosophical. A fantastic night out.
Bonnie and Clyde is playing at Theatre503 until 5th February. Book tickets through the website.