Bonnie and Clyde is a modern legend, a tale of forbidden love and violent passions not even a century old. While the actual story is of two mass murderers on a multi-state killing spree, we tend to only remember the romance between the two killers. Theater Under the Stars performance of Bonnie and Clyde capture the idealistic romantic side of the couple, even if historical details are sacrificed for the sake of the story.
The play opens with the couple as children, played by Ella Ducharme and Scott Fonseka. The play quickly establishes the hardships both suffered, and their dreams of fame. Bonnie is forced to move with her mother after the early death of her father, while Clyde was constantly getting into trouble with the law since his youth. The adult couple, played by Kathryn Porterfield and Robert Hager, meet on the side of the road after a flat tire and history is made.
The play takes a while to set up, the first act establishes the conflicted but at the same time compatible personalities of the bank robbers. Clyde is angry at growing up poor and being constantly in trouble with the law. Bonnie has dreams of being a movie star but trapped in poverty. Both desire more than anything else to be famous, and that bond turns their love into the stuff of legend.
Joining Bonnie and Clyde are his loyal but extremely short sighted brother Buck (Drew Starlin) and Buck's wife Blanche (Courtney Markowitz). Buck is torn between his devotion to his brother and his love for his wife. Blanche is also torn by her hatred of Clyde and her love of Buck. Once the couples join up the play quickens the action considerably.
On the other side of the law there is Deputy Ted Hinton (Adam Gibbs), a friend of Bonnie's from her past. He is a sympathetic figure, begging Bonnie to not leave with Clyde and nothing good would come of it. He is portrayed as a sad sack character, with no one listening to him on the criminal side or the law enforcement side. His arc is largely left unresolved. The other major police figure is the hardened Frank Hamer (Nick Henderson) who relentlessly hunts down the pair, even when his authority to do so is questioned.
The play flows well, there is never a moment of drag. Both leads carry themselves well vocally and capture the almost celebrity status of their characters. Starlin and Markowitz portray the secondary characters divided loyalties succinctly. Special note goes to Ella Ducharme, though her singing time is limited her vocals were quite impressive.
The play is heavily fictionalized from actual events, none of the other gang members exist in the play, and several other critical characters are either turned into a composite or dropped entirely. Miss Porterfield is much more charismatic than the actual Bonnie Parker, and Mr. Hager plays Clyde Barrow without the severe mental issues the killer was known for. This does not take away at all from the story, you will really enjoy the play. Just don't use it on a history report.
Bonnie and Clyde is playing at the Hobby Center, Zilkha Hall until October 11. Note the Hobby Center is undergoing extensive repairs, so park on the Walker side of the Center to enter.