REVIEW: Bearing heart and ‘sole’, Bonnie and Clyde wows audience in intimate stage play
After a successful run in Cambridge, the Town and Gown Theatre company brings its latest barefoot play Bonnie and Clyde to The Old Join Stock on Temple Row.
Directed by Karl Steele, the show focuses on the love, and love lost, in the final hours of the life of notorious crime power couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, played by Sharni Tapako-Brown and James Edge respectively.
For a play with one location and a minimalistic set, the true power of this play shines through in the direction and acting of the human beings involved.
How we, as an audience, join the characters as they explore the various themes of the human psyche whilst locked down in the single room of their mid-western hideout, a feeling all of us can relate to during the pandemic.
For a show consisting of solely two cast members, the minimalistic set and intimate stage lay out helps keep the focus on every micro expression displayed by our two stars.
Showstopping Sharni Tapako-Brown gave us not only a versatile range but roaring, furious passion as Bonnie Parker. Emotionally turning on a six-pence with finesse, a technique normally reserved for close ups in film, the intimate nature of the stage lay out was the perfect canvas for Tapako-Brown to expertly show us every micro expression of Bonnie’s inner thoughts.
A notable scene was that of ‘The Mouse’. Her co-star Edge provided the perfect bounce-board giving Tapako-Brown the opportunity to truly unleash tempestuous, thunderous fury.
Turning from disbelief to denial, from apoplectic rage to eyes red defeated and worn out without so many words is a talent few actors possess and Tapako-Brown demonstrates her skill masterfully.
James Edge gave a performance anchored in the strength and stability of Clyde Barrow. Being the rock that Bonnie clings to, Clyde must keep up a front of masculinity, but confronted by the demons of his past and the prospect of his impeding death, the veneer of strength breaks to moments of vulnerability in the moments hidden from Bonnie’s view.
Edge’s consistent rendition of Clyde is one based in male visibility, notably how men believe they should be perceived when being observed, and how that conflicts with how they truly feel when they believe they aren’t being observed.
An important and timely subject for November a month highlighting the importance of men’s mental health in the modern age. Edge is aware of sight lines of both his co-star Tapako-Brown and the audience, taking the opportunity to show an authentic vulnerability in strength when not being observed by Bonnie even in their most tender moments together.
All in all this play is a must see for anyone who likes a more intimate connected vibe for independent theatre.
Fantastic direction with promising rising stars in the acting world giving soulful performances from start to finish. A well deserved 4 star show!
Catch the final two performances tomorrow at The Old Joint Stock on Temple Row. You can book tickets here.