“Edge does authenticity like Sir Francis Chichester did knots. He’s intricate, solid, reliable – as perfect a pairing with Tapako-Brown as when gin met tonic.”
Go big or go home. Karl Steele’s gone big. Two tons big. Two tons of building sand delivered to central Cambridge and then wheelbarrowed, personalmente di persona, by The Town and Gown’s in-house director up, up, and up to the black box in which he has framed Adam Peck’s #notthemusical portraits of Bonnie Elizabeth Parker (b. 1 October, 1910 – d. 23 May, 1934) and Clyde Chestnut Barrow (b. 24 March, 1909 – d. 23 May, 1934).
Bonnie and Clyde are so famous that you know who they are even if you know nothing about them. You won’t have learned very much more as you exit this show. Peck’s script is thinner than what they fed to Oliver Twist while he was still at the orphanage. Least said soonest mended. So in brief, Bonnie and her beau are (presumably) in their hideout, (presumably) recovering from a recentish gun battle, (definitely) a bit nuts, (definitely) squabbling like only people in love can.
We enter to find Steele’s sand as the stage on which the drama will play out. It brings a depth and physicality to the piece that must be seen to be believed. Actors Sharni Tapako-Brown and James Edge are toe-deep in the stuff. Brooding. Bickering. Bullshitting. Tapako-Brown brings a Black Annis, banshee-ite energy that is ferocious, frightening, and full on. She walks softly while never letting go of the big crazy stick. Tapako-Brown glides across the sand more elegant than Audrey Hepburn juggling bottles of Chanel °5. Yet she’ll turn on a sixpence, 0 to 60 faster than a Bugatti Chiron. It’s a hell hath no fury performance that’s not to be missed by anyone who’s ever wondered what it might be like to watch a Hollywood star of the old school live on stage.
At the crease, batman James Edge must play over after over with (seemingly) no idea of what kind of ball will be bowled at him next. Bouncers, inswingers, yorkers, and then the deadly slower paced deliveries that really show off Tapako-Brown’s range and skill. Edge might have played defensively, given up the sandy ground to let his colleague strut her stuff. Instead he gives as good as he gets modulating his performance from sleepy lion to buzzed-up fox. Edge does authenticity like Sir Francis Chichester did knots. He’s intricate, solid, reliable – as perfect a pairing with Tapako-Brown as when gin met tonic.
Get your coats on. Come for the set. Stay for the performances. Despite the script, you won’t be disappointed.
Reviewer: Dan Lentell