Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who robbed grocery stores, gas stations and banks, captured the imagination of the public during the Great Depression and became celebrities as popular as movie stars. People wanted autographs. Police finally caught up with them and they were killed in an ambush in 1934.

In 1967, Arthur Penn made a film, one of the best gangster films of all time, a classic. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in the lead roles gave the couple all the glamor and fame that the real Bonnie and Clyde craved.

The film divided the American nation and was widely criticized for its brutal violence and for being too sympathetic to criminals who were not only robbers but also murderers.

The film, brilliantly edited, was remarkable in that it constantly switched: from violence to lyrics, from romance to comedy, a repetitive cycle, to the lively musical score of the 1930s.

The film with a lot of cars and a lot of bullets is a road movie where it takes place in large open rural areas. How will the stage version compete with all this?

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty – it’s hard to do. The final image of the twitching bodies of the couple and their car, cut by bullets, is unforgettable.

The music version premiered in 2009 in San Diego, California, and later in 2011 on Broadway. The book by Ivan Menshal. Music – Frank Wildhorn. Lyrics of Don Black. The score gained a large cult audience, and the show was long overdue in the UK.

Earlier this year, the Drury Lane Theater hosted two sold-out concerts. Now the Art Theater is hosting a full-scale stage production, beautifully staged by Nick Winston and beautifully designed by Philip Whitcomb.

The fans were in force and sounded like a click, welcoming every number. Melodic songs, country, gospel and rock are very pleasant. As in the film, there is a lot of compassion and pity for the couple, two dreamers who have missed their lives and poverty and are looking for a better and more exciting life.

There are pleasant performances by Francis Mailey McCann and Jordan Luke Gage as Bonnie and Clyde, as well as good support from George Maguire as Clyde’s brother and Natalie McQueen as brother’s wife.

To learn more about Robert Tanic and his reviews, click here to go to his website Robert Tanich logo

Robert Tanitch reviews Bonnie & Clyde at Arts Theatre, London

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