Bonnie and Clyde – The Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

Reviewer: James Garrington

Writer: Adam Peck

Director: Karl Steele

There’s some powerful stuff happening at the Old Joint Stock this week.

Adam Peck’s Bonnie and Clyde is a two-hander that focuses on the last hours of the infamous couple. On the run and hiding in a barn, the pair live on tinned food and memories as they wait for justice to catch up with them.

They teeter between fantasy and reality, Bonnie Parker (Sharni Tapako-Brown) at times revelling in reliving past exploits from newspapers, at others playing games of ‘what would you rather be?’ involving characters of increasing absurdity – while Clyde Barrow (James Edge) gets increasingly irritable: indulging her, angering her, fighting her.

This Bonnie and Clyde is less about what we see happening, and more about what we don’t. It’s a study of their characters and their relationship rather than of their deeds – and interspersed in the action we hear radio reports of their ultimate demise delivered in a very graphic but totally deadpan style, a stark contrast to their stormy relationship being played out in front of us. It’s a slow-burner, building steadily but with no great dramatic episodes towards the end, and although everyone knows how the story plays out the tension that this piece builds is palpable as the time nears – a tension enhanced by the intimate nature of the Old Joint Stock Theatre.

There are strong performances from the two actors on stage, each immersed in their character, with Tapako-Brown’s Bonnie hovering on the edge of insanity as Edge’s Clyde becomes increasingly tetchy and anxious as the performance progresses towards the climax. Although not always comfortable to watch, it holds an engrossing fascination and the 75 minutes running time passes quickly. The impact of what you’ve seen doesn’t entirely hit you at once but lingers and develops in your mind long after you’ve left the theatre. Powerful stuff indeed.

Runs until 13 November 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Thoughtfully conceived and powerfully delivered

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