Review: ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, 2/4/24

Try to catch your breath watching the excitement

The sad tale of Bonnie and Clyde is infamous. Everyone knows of the terrible twosome and their litany of crimes, but does everyone know how they got there? Does anyone know who they are? This fast-paced, exciting, and thrilling musical by Nick Winston takes you on a journey to discover who Bonnie and Clyde are and how they met their demise.

I have seen quite a few theatre shows, but this was one that made a huge impression when entering the auditorium. You can imagine how extra a show is going to be by the way that they decorate that first view. This was one of the most thought-out sets I have seen and throughout the show they utilised every trick in the book: projectors, moving stage, items coming from the ceiling, and intricate, interesting lighting. From the moment the theatre began to darken, I was shot awake and alert, my interest immediately grabbed. Not many shows have I sat on the edge of my seat for, and this was certainly one.

There was, incredibly, not a single dodgy song, not even a single dodge note. Every line was word-perfect and the only possible qualm was the Southern American accent making it sometimes difficult to understand what the actors are saying. However, this was not always necessary given that the sustained sense of character told an ongoing story.

I have complete and utter kudos for the cast and crew. This was genuinely phenomenal. Clyde (Alex James-Hatton) and Bonnie (Katie Tonkinson) had incredible chemistry which was shown with the multiple unexpected and impressive raunchy moments. Several songs ended with their making out, which requires full commitment and was bleedingly obvious from the off. The vocals were absolutely insane and their duets together were divine and if I could eat and drink their singing, then I would never be hungry. Catherine Tyldesley of Coronation Street fame and Sam Ferriday played the couple of Blanche and Buck Barrow exceptionally well, bringing perfect light moments as well as gut-wrenching ones. Daniel Reid-Walters was incredible as Ted and he had one of those rare qualities of making his eyes shine just so, making every word and emotion he gave just wholly believable. Finally, Jaz Ellington preached to my soul this evening and left my ears ringing with the voice of a soulful angel.

Speaking to a friend in the interval, they mentioned how Clyde was not permitted to sing ‘Raise a little Hell’ in that way, while simultaneously committing violence. This is because James-Hatton’s performance was so incredibly enticing that it made even the most moral audience members have immoral thoughts. It was perfect casting, given that we have to believe Bonnie would follow this man on the run simply through love and lust alone. After watching this performance, I think I would have to say I’d do the same.

I would say, however, that the best view for this show would be if you were sitting in the very middle. For some performances, you get treated to additional quirks if you sit on the outer edges, however due to the laden stage, there were some moments that were almost completely blocked from view.

Tonight, I was transported through time and space. For those considering watching, or those waiting for their chance, I will leave you with a snippet of Bonnie’s own poetry:

Some day they’ll go down together

they’ll bury them side by side.

To few it’ll be grief,

to the law a relief

but it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.

‘Bonnie and Clyde’ is currently at the Mayflower Theatre as part of its UK tour, tickets can be purchased here.

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