Echo Productions brings America’s first ‘power couple’ to life at the Factory Studio Theatre in Toronto
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow took America by storm in a spree of high stakes bank robberies during the Great Depression that also resulted in the deaths of various police officers and civilians along the way. Their wave of crime came to an ultimate fiery end in 1934. Since then, their lives of crime have been the focus of numerous shows and movies including Echo Productions‘ latest show.
There’s a certain sex appeal that comes with the story of Bonnie and Clyde — they were often times referred to as America’s first power couple as they taunted the news outlets while hitting bank after bank. Though it’s clear that there’s only one way this story could possibly end, you can’t help but cheer for the bad guy. Director Victoria Fuller does a fine job in playing up the sexiness and sensationalism of the story through the production — both the minimalist set and the cast are done up in tones of red, black and white while music, lighting, sounds and projections play crucial parts in helping the story along. To top it off, a troupe of interpretive dancers team up to form “The Law”.
Bonnie and Clyde is theatre made to feel like a movie and it even included an ‘opening credits’ sequence that felt slightly drawn out. That opening credit sequence was done with a rendition of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” performed live in the background. ‘Wow,’ I thought to myself ‘Kill Bill much?’ And yes, actually, there is quite an unspoken homage to Quentin Tarantino (from the other musical choices to the disjointed story telling) throughout the production. In fact if Tarantino decided to direct theatre and took on the same story, this production is very close to what it would look like. If you’re a fan of his work and his method of telling stories, Bonnie and Clyde would be something you’d enjoy.
And for the most part it worked for me and my new theatre friend Glenn, but after a while the direct references to Tarantino’s work felt excessive and seemed to take away from the soul of the story. It leads into the interesting use of the five ladies who play “The Law”, their interpretive dance is used to transition between scenes and, of course, to represent the cops closing in (and choreographer Emma Bartolomucci does grand work in executing those scenes). Interestingly enough, their bodies also stand in for inanimate objects like Bonnie and Clyde’s car and the kitchen table. But it was some of their interpretive interludes that I also felt were becoming excessive.
What truly sold it for me were the performances. The cast’s commitment to their roles throughout the two-hour production is highly commendable, never once appearing to lose their momentum. I was impressed by Nicole Power’s portrayal of Bonnie Parker who captured a real desperation of how far a woman in love will go for her beloved. It was a treat watching her recite lines from “The Trail’s End”, a poem that Bonnie Parker wrote in 1932. Adrian Yearwood also did an outstanding job — his love of the Bonnie and Clyde story is quite evident as he not only wrote the play but took on the title role of Clyde Barrow. My friend Glenn enjoyed Sheri Anne Godda’s role of Cumie Barrow, Clyde’s mother, in particular her rawness when she is informed her sons won’t be returning to her alive. Another notable mention is Meghan Greeley as Blanche Barrow — the emotional progression through her interrogation scenes are quite well done.
Bonnie and Clyde boasts a rather large cast with quite a bit of choreography, both recorded and live music, projections, strobe lights and sound effects. There’s a lot going on but it all makes for one entertaining night of theatre.
- Bonnie and Clyde is playing at the Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street) until March 14.
- Performances run March 11-14 at 8 pm with 2:30 pm matinees on Sunday March 8 and 14.
- Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for students/seniors/arts workers, and $5 for hipTIX (students ages 14-29).
- Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at 416 504 9971.
- There is an audience advisory for strobe lights and mature language.
Photo of Nicole Power and Adrian Yearwood by Samantha Falco.