Review: Bonnie and Clyde, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Review: Bonnie and Clyde, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

By Graham Hiley.

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Bonnie and Clyde is deservedly playing to packed houses as it Raises A Little Hell around the country.

After an all-too-short run in the West End, the latest stop for this top quality touring production is the Mayflower in Southampton where it received a rousing reception.

Surely everyone there will have already heard the story of armed robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow – known simply as Bonnie and Clyde as nothing rhymes with Clyde and Bonnie!

The saga of the pair robbing gas stations and shooting their way out of trouble has become immortalised – even feted – since they were chased, caught and killed by police during the Great Depression.

Nick Winston’s musical perfectly captures the glamour of the couple’s crime spree and life on the run in a way which has you rooting for them despite knowing from the start they are destined to die in a hail of bullets.

But it does not shy away from the grisly reality of the violence and the victims while examining the torturous conflict between the bullet and the Bible.

That is emotionally expressed by Blanche Barrow powerfully played by former Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley who swapped Weatherfield for West Dallas.

Her moral stance during You’re Going Back to Jail created a huge dilemma for husband Buck Barrow (Sam Ferriday) as the escaped convict agonised over whether to turn himself in – and cleverly struggled to finish his sentence as he talked about finishing his sentence!

But while the Strictly star might be the best known cast member,  the greatest plaudits go to the duo who played the title roles.

Alex James-Hatton had huge shoes to fill following on from Jordan Luke Gage who had played the role of Clyde so masterfully in the West End.

But he was utterly compelling as he wrestled with his love for both Bonnie and his brother which clashed with his anger and ambition that This World Will Remember Me.

Yet even he was eclipsed by the true star of the show in Katie Tonkinson who was brilliant as Bonnie. The former Bat out of Hell actress captured the full range of emotions of the young girl who wanted to be famous.

Revelling in her infamy as a ravishing redhead, she was sultry and sexy creating real chemistry with Clyde in a relationship which alternated between stormy and steamy. And boy could she sing!

Her duet with Blanche saw their voices perfectly intertwine for You Love Who You Love which sent shivers down the spine.

There were strong performances from Daniel Reid-Walters as Ted and Jaz Ellington as the Preacher to keep up the pace when the storyline might otherwise have been stretched a bit thin.

Instead, it was quite immersive thanks in no small part to the cleverly projected scenery which played a key role in this powerful production.

Just like Bonnie and Clyde themselves, this show will run and run!

Bonnie and Clyde is at the Mayflower until Saturday April 6. Tickets here.

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