Review: ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ at Shotgun Players (****)

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: *****)

This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

(“Bonnie and Clyde” plays at The Ashby Stage from August 27 through September 29, 2013.)

Shotgun’s “Bonnie and Clyde” is a thrilling production in every respect. It announces itself with a striking set consisting of the prison like interior of a barn, through which we see the movements of light and the night.

It is both a theatre and a dance performance, a love story and an amazing adventure. Bonnie and Clyde are presented as complex characters with rich personal histories and a profound love for one another. And they are anything but stupid.

The play is a study on the horrifying directions a life can take, depending on circumstances, and the compromise of brains and character.

Joe Estlack and Megan Trout are both excellent actors who make us care about these people. Trout captures Bonnie’s restless intelligence as well as her passion for and fascination with the violent but emotionally complex Clyde. (Bonnie’s intelligence is an historical fact; she was a folk balladeer of some talent.)

Joe Estlack and Megan Trout as Bonnie & Clyde in the brilliantly acted and choreographed "Bonnie and Clyde" at Shotgun Players. Photo Credit: Pak Han.
Joe Estlack and Megan Trout as Bonnie & Clyde in the brilliantly acted and choreographed “Bonnie and Clyde” at Shotgun Players. Photo Credit: Pak Han.

The story of Bonnie and Clyde with its interweaving themes of love and violence, wealth, celebrity and ambition, has fascinated Americans for generations. We are the Barrows and we find the mirror they offer of our cultural identity to be irresistible. Playwright Adam Peck understands this and delivers 80 minutes of breathless excitement.

This production, choreographed collaboratively between credited choreographer Kimberly Dooly and the actor/dancers themselves, is as much a dance performance as a play.

Joe Estlack is an athletic dancer with a powerful gift for emotional expression. Megan Trout’s dancing is polished, true and impressively skillful. Both actors give performances that will live vividly in our memories. Altogether, this is a wonderful show.

For further information, click here.

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“Bonnie & Clyde” by Adam Peck, presented by Shotgun Players. Director: Mark Jackson. Set Design: Robert Broadfoot. Light Design: Jon Tracy. Costume Design: Ashley Rogers. Projection Design: Micah Stieglitz. Choreographer: Kimberly Dooley. 

Clyde Barrow: Joe Estlack. Bonnie Parker: Megan Trout.

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