This show is written in an overtly theatrical, minimalist vein, of which its two-character format is only the beginning. The universality of its romantic themes (see Dramaturgical Notes) feed off this lean spirit as well.
In the course of seeing this piece performed, the original director and authors learned of certain expectations any audience brings to a piece entitled “Bonnie and Clyde.” Future directors may find it helpful to know:
1. Audiences expect fun. This is not because of the various film adaptations; many saw Bonnie & Clyde as fun before they were even dead as the wild pair who did unto businesses and foreclosing banks what others in the Depression only dreamed of doing. It helps to cast performers who can deliver punch-lines, but just as important is the pace of the show. Scenes should move with some agility (no long scene changes, no time-encumbering changes of costume or hair). The show plays best when possessed of a choreographic tightness that extends into the scene changes. Cubic yards of dialogue and bickering were trimmed to give it its steady flow. Musical tempos and dynamics were carefully timed, calculated, and written. They should be respected as much as possible.
2. Audiences expect at least a feeling of authenticity. Please note the inclusion of details about Bonnie and Clyde’s exploits, including newspaper articles VERY important. More fundamentally, actors will do best to come across as authentic southerners in the throes of the Depression, with all the dramatically motivating desperation that implies. At the same time, too much Texan/Midwestern nasality in the singing could hurt the songs.
3. Audiences expect love. Argumentative beats, while important, should not outnumber loving beats. These will often turn on a dime and require actors to transition gracefully.
4. Audiences expect to get something anything that they haven’t gotten from other versions of the tale. The authors have structured most scenes to reveal at least one uncommonly-known detail about the characters, but that is not enough. The true uniqueness of this show lay in its insistence on viewing Bonnie and Clyde as iconic deities SECOND and as an average Jack and Jill run amok FIRST. Fixing this delicate balance was key to structuring the script.
As you can see, direction of this piece can be a balancing act. Relatively young performers have tackled these roles with success, but it is not a crime to cast Clyde (and especially Bonnie) older than they were historically. It is a crime to have a two-person show be performed in anything less than a thrilling manner.
All best with the show!