Sometimes when the traffic to Bristol chicanes through the roadworks at zilch miles an hour in an endless ribbon and the drive from Frome takes twice as long as the play which turns out to be flat as bad prosecco, I wonder why I do it... Then I see something fantastic like Fairground Theatre Company's Bonnie and Clyde and I remember.
We have chosen to live lives less ordinary, the outlaws announce in slow unison at the start of what, it is soon clear, is their last day on the run. Less ordinary in that every simmering emotion – regret, frustration, jealousy, and love, is played out in the dreadful foreknowledge that, if not today then soon, a violent death will find them. The set, a half-derelict shack in pale cornfields, is superb both in supporting their lonely isolation and creating a childish haven, a Wendy-house where these killer children play dressing up and picnics, quarrel and fight and curl up together to sleep.
Actors Eoin Slattery and Catherine McKinnon were heartbreakingly good, brimming with bafflement at their predicament and their passions, and looking remarkably like the foyer photographs of both the real couple and the 1967 film actors. A fabulous script by Adam Peck took us to the heart of the story through succinct exchanges and lyrical monologue from Clyde as he flashes forward to the slow-motion shooting with such precision you can feel the dusty heat shimmer.
What's shown is visceral, intimate, theatrical, surreal, often beautiful, always poignant, sometimes funny, but this play engages at every level: glimpses of stifling social attitudes, and Clyde’s early idealism (Is that what we were doin’ Clyde? Bonnie wonders), and even comparisons with contemporary car-crash wannabe famous blondes but with a light touch skilful as an acupuncture needle. It's on at the Brewery till 23rd October- go see.
Another road-movie story, but I won't be reviewing A Laughing Matter at the Alma because I didn't see most of it. It wasn't the actors' fault that my coulrophobia kicked in from the opening sequence and since the suicidal mime artist stayed in costume and partial make-up throughout, my experience was mainly audial. So any attempt objective commentary would be unfair: all I can say of the script is that the journey of an 'odd couple' of anachronistic entertainers is not enough to sustain interest without characterisation, relationship, or dramatic purpose.