NEW MILFORD — America needed heroes. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow fancied themselves fulfilling that role in some twisted, misguided way.
TheatreWorks New Milford’s production of Bonnie and Clyde, a play by Adam Peck that opened last weekend, seeks to dig deeper into who this gun slingingpair of lovers were and what they wanted.
As Bonnie and Clyde come to terms with the inevitability of a losing confrontation with the law, they spend time holed up in a barn as fugitives. Taking poignant and awkward steps towards intimacy as they try repeatedly to connect, the play offers a glimpse of the vulnerability and naiveté of two of America’s most infamous criminals. Songs, movies and legend have long chronicled their activities. This piece trains its focus on the hours before their final moments, as they share their last meal, quarrel over burial plots, recount their exploits, and solidify their desired legacy.
While their motivation is never declared, the subtle contextualization of their time and place by Peck offer some reason for their violent measures. Ultimately, this Bonnie and Clyde want what most do: to be loved.
As Bonnie, Marilyn Hart speaks in a melodious, dreamy voice with a slow southern drawl that’s as thick and sweet as black strap molasses. It belies her demonic tendencies. Her Bonnie is playful, intelligent, and needy. A complex set of traits which she parses out deliberately, bravely, and precisely. Slow dancing with Clyde, a startlingly genuine look of utter fear moved across her face. She blinked it back. It was heartbreaking.
In his debut theatre performance, Adam Stordy, as Clyde, is reticent yet powerful. He sees the future and is resigned to it. Conveying regret, remorse, homesickness, and simmering hostility, itching just under his skin, with a quiet, pensive energy, this actor deftly peels back the layers of Clyde Barrow. Even as he rebuffs Bonnie’s overtures (“We said most things already, early on”), his desire to protect her from knowing what is ahead is evident.
Under the direction of Joseph Russo, all components of this production coalesce into an eerie, chilling, and haunting portrayal of a young, wayward couple who captured America’s attention in a very dark hour of her history. The impact of the lighting design, by Richard Pettibone and Scott Wyshynski, is nothing short of brilliant. From the spattered effect at the opening to the celestial metaphor at the end, it is all awesome.
The set, complete with running water, serves the play well. It manages to be both open and confining, while functioning flawlessly under the stage management of Reesa Roccapriore.
“We are bad people” utters Clyde, and they are. Bad people worth catching in a good play.
(Performances continue at Theatreworks New Milford, 5 Brookside Drive in New Milford, weekends until August 2.
Curtain is Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; and Sunday, July 27, at 2 pm. Call for tickets at 860-350-6863.)