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Newark Advertiser review of Bonnie & Clyde the Musical and Theater Royal, Nottingham

Romantic outlaws or ruthless criminals? Bonnie and Clyde are the stars of the show in this killer musical.

Hot on the tail of a famous outfit in London’s West End, Bonnie & Clyde comes to Nottingham’s Theater Royal with all the drama and glamor you’d expect from a period production.

Stylish and fun, but mostly full of passion, this show is something to remember and one that leaves you close to the “bad guys”.

Bonnie & Clyde Production Photos: Richard Davenport.

The musical follows the story of two small-town kids from nowhere who grow up to become celebrated folk heroes in Depression-era America in the early 1930s.

But behind the romance of their carefree lawlessness lurks a raw violence that is often overlooked when discussing these cult figures.

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Clyde Barrow grew up idolizing Old West legends like Billy the Kid and Jesse James for the freedom he lacked – hoping to break free from a society he felt was holding him down.

Bonnie Parker is an ambitious young woman who works as a waitress but has a passion for poetry and dreams of becoming a star with her face in newspapers and magazines.

After love at first sight, together, their wishes came true – but they also set out on a road that would eventually end at the barrel of a gun and riddled with bullets.

It takes place amid the country’s turmoil and riots following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which sent the economy into a tailspin.

Banks are evicting people from their homes, jobs are scarce, heavy-handed cops are enforcing the laws of the land by any means necessary, and there is a growing distrust of those in power.

Gradually, Bonnie and Clyde, the pair who captured the nation’s hearts, hit the loose, robbing banks from state to state and were seen as sticking to “the man.”

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But behind the headlines was a trail of destruction that left at least 13 people dead, most of them police officers.

Bonnie & Clyde Production Photos: Richard Davenport.

A standout moment in the show is when the pair exclaim “this world will remember us”. For better or worse the world remembered them, and this show leaves a lasting impression.

The soundtrack is excellent, with gospel, blues, jazz and swing helping to transport the audience back in time and giving everything a lively and exciting bounce.

But in the quieter moments between our titular characters, played by Alex James-Hatton and Katie Tonkinson, we find a real and touching connection.

The love between the pair, as toxic and physical as it could get, feels genuine and full credit goes to Prospects for selling such an engaging narrative.

Both characters are flawed and struggle to get by, and the story is a great example of how far people will go when society turns its back on them.

I really enjoyed this show, even though it played in the romanticized and fictionalized view of a couple that would become legend.

It only scratched the surface of a story that disguised the cruelty of Bonnie and Clyde behind layers of love and passion and the anti-hero image of being an outlaw.

But in all these are the questions, why conform? Why not follow your passions? But above all, if you can’t make it to heaven, why not raise a little hell? — FB

Bonnie & Clyde plays at Nottingham’s Theater Royal until Saturday (May 18).