THEATRE REVIEW: Act II Theatre Company, Bonnie and Clyde, Gangster's paradise for as long as you live
When news first broke that the ever-ambitious Act II Theatre Company were going to tackle Bonnie and Clyde, the possibility emerged that this could be the stage group's finest ever hour.
But as the late, great Sir Richard Attenborough was told 55 years ago when he was first approached to make a film about Indian peace campaigner Mahatma Gandhi, this production would stand or fall on the casting of the two lead characters.
So it was that Bonnie Parker (Molly Riches) and Clyde Barrow (Rory Prestt) were handed the once-in-a-lifetime job of singing, acting and impersonating the Depression-era outlaws.
Backed by a slim and select supporting cast, lead by the ever-reliable Dominique Spinks (Blanche Barrow) and Theo Duddridge (Buck Barrow, Clyde's brother), Bonnie and Clyde held your attention with an assortment of songs and dramatic stand-offs.
The musical marked a coming of age for Daniel Mulley and Emily Franklin who played Young Clyde and Bonnie respectively, while Dominic Thorpe continued to prove himself a worthy successor to Act II "legends" James Girard and Jack Harrison with one of the most convincing Tommy Lee Jones impressions ever heard in Spalding.
For Bonnie and Clyde to carry off a near 150 minute production, not only reciting their lines to perfection but handling the songs and action scenes as well, is testament to Molly and Rory's developing talents and skills and musical theatre performers in their own right.
There was even time for a nod to late comedian Kenny Everett's character, "Brother Lee Love", when "preacher" Ashleigh Mills led her "congregation" in the song "God's Arms Are Always Open".
In fact the only thing missing from Bonnie and Clyde was their actual demise as director Charlotte Gernert ended the play with a newspaper headline reporting the deadly duo's deaths in a hail of bullets that we all, and both of them, knew were coming.
But perhaps the best summary of Bonnie and Clyde was provided, or sung, by Clyde Barrow himself, with the number "I won't get to heaven so let's just raise a little hell".
What would the parents and grandparents who saw their little gems brandish automatic rifles and hold up banks make of songs like "Dyin Ain't So Bad" and "Too Late To Turn Back Now".
But as the director assured everyone in her programme notes, "much of this musical is fiction, a great, romanticized version of the story of two frankly abhorrent murderers".
Who needs Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, stars of the 1967 movie portrayal of Bonnie and Clyde, when you have Act II Theatre Company?