Bonnie & Clyde
Garrick Theatre, London, until July 10
The musical Bonnie & Clyde looks terrific with its moody period set and costume design by Philip Witcomb. It also has, in Frances Mayli McCann and Jordan Luke Gage, two extremely good-looking, if not especially charismatic, actors in the title roles. Nina Dunn’s use of video backdrops is fresh and imaginative. It’s clear everyone has tried very hard to make this show work and absolutely no expense has been spared.
This made me yearn all the more for an even halfway memorable song, but,
for once, the great Don Black’s lyrics don’t deliver. The accompanying music
by Frank Wildhorn would make for a less-than-memorable ride in a lift, but
doesn’t pass muster for a West End show. There’s something very unappealingly stolid about the way the whole thing has been put together by
the director and choreographer Nick Winston and performed by his large but entirely unremarkable cast.
Ivan Menchell’s script at least rings some changes, presenting the two notorious American gangsters of the Depression era as a perfectly amiable
pair of wannabes who’d set their hearts on being respectively Clara Bow – the Hollywood film star – and Chicago racketeer Al Capone.
In another time, they could have both made it on to America’s Got Talent and
led very different lives, but it wasn’t of course to be. The show starts off with
images of the real-life Bonnie and Clyde’s corpses after their final big shoot-out which means that even for the punters unfamiliar with the story there’s no great surprise about how it all ends.
I don’t say it’s a show without any redeeming features – I quite liked the old car the doomed couple drove about in – but I fear all I will ever remember
about it is how unforgivably time-consuming it was, kicking off late at 7.12pm on the opening night and ending at nearly 10pm.
It so happens that I saw it with a wine writer who told me afterwards that the great thing about his job is that he can take a sip, work out whether the wine is to his taste or not and then spit it out. The whole process generally takes him no more than a few seconds. Contemplating the amount of time it takes to sample a play, he looked at me, as we parted company, with genuine pity.