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Bonnie Parker On-Stage: Reviews
"Do your work and demand your compensation...but in that order" Cary Grant

Theatre Review - Bonnie Disarming
Famed outlaw steals hearts in Lone Star Studios tale
By Tom Sime
Staff writer of The Dallas Morning News

Fort Worth - Parked outside the Circle Theatre at the opening of Lone Star Studios' Inside Bonnie Parker was the "Bonnie and Clyde Movie Car." The bullet - riddled Ford was only a prop for the film, but it served well as a portent of the grisly fate awaiting the enduring creature we soon met onstage.

Perhaps the real Bonnie Elizabeth Parker Thorton was not as charming as the writer actress Dixie Lee Sedgwick and director Joe Black make her seem in this one-woman play, which was first staged as Little Blue-Eyed Girl in Dallas last year.

But Bonnie was a straight A student and precocious orator during her youth in Dallas, and in many ways Ms. Sedgwick is what Bonnie might have been if she'd had a chance to fulfill her ambition to be an actress and writer. Instead she fell desperately in love with budding gangster Clyde Barrow.

The play is based on Bonnie's actual diary entries, which justifies a soliloquy format that's gradually stretched to include conversations with unseen persons. But given Ms. Sedgwick's riveting stage presence, we don't care whom she's talking to, as long as she keeps talking.

We first meet Bonnie in 1927, when she's 17 and already disillusioned with her year-old marriage to Roy Thorton, "A roamin'' husband with a roamin'' mind." After three separations she never gets around to divorcing him. She's left without inspiration after her fathers untimely death - "I was a favorite, now I'm nobody's girl."

So Bonnie's vulnerable when she discovers the potency of her own previously untapped lust. It hits her when she looks up from washing dishes to see Clyde - a friend of a friend - starring at her with "those sexy eyes." The sensations he brings her are new and powerful enough to pull her into a life of crime, just to be near him. But the play doesn't really depict her as a passive victim.

Her bond with Clyde is Bonnie's first effort at choosing her own destiny, and she picks the wrong card. But she holds on firmly, as their beauty and sex life are chipped away by the mayhem of their crime spree, which ended in a 1934 police ambush.

The play is not sensationalistic; indeed, it's subdued and introspective to a fault at times. The tale is cautionary, but not in the expected way. This Bonnie shows us the danger of such incendiary attraction as that between her and Clyde; it appears almost as dangerous to be riddled with desire as bullets.
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Stage Review - Love Crimes
By Jimmy Fowler
The Dallas Observer

If you happen to be of the opinion that Arthur Penn's much appraised 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde has not aged well, you will come away from Inside Bonnie Parker, a one woman show currently playing at Fort Worth's Circle Theatre, with the joyous feeling that your dissent has been completely justified. Granted Penn and actor-writer Dixie Lee Sedgwick have pursued almost diametrically opposed goals with their productions.

He wanted to soup up and spin out the early-30s Texas myth of Bonnie and Clyde as glamorous outlaws, anti heroes of the depression, while she wants to de-mythologize their exploits by explaining the sad fundamentals of time and personality behind them. But if you're too much of a cinephile to be honest with yourself, it's easy to prefer Sedgwick's edgy, vulnerable, slowly coarsening Bonnie Elizabeth Parker Thorton to Faye Dunaway's smoldering white-trash gangster goddess. The performance of Dunaway, who met with Sedgwick while the latter was in the process of researching this show, never seemed to convey any depth any greater than the films most infamous publicity shot, Dunaway posed with Warren Beatty and a rifle beside their getaway car. This was the photo manque of the real picture of Bonnie and Clyde, who had begun to cling to their own celebrity as a consolation for their growing desperation.

Inside Bonnie Parker was previously staged at the old Deep Ellum Opera Theatre space last year as Little Blue-Eyed Girl and will be reprised in January at The Plano Repertory Theatre. I must say, the original title held more fascination for me, if only because it synopsized the most un-Dunaway aspect to Bonnie Parker, the one given short shrift in Penn's movie.

Although the authorities who gunned down the 23-year old in 1932 conceded that she was no bloodthirsty killer and that when taken into custody she tended to inspire the paternal aspects of the police who held her (she was given the sheriffs oversized work-shirt to wear to make her feel more comfortable and less criminal while behind bars), there was a mystifying devolution from the high school poet, speech class star, and mini celebrity who performed Shirley Temple-like as a warm up act at the stump speeches of local politicians to the accomplice of rage-filled Clyde Barrow. Sedgwick's decision to change the name makes much marketing sense, of course, but the real potency of her cautionary tale lies in what happened to that little blue-eyed girl.

As directed by Joe Black, who along with Sedgwick excepted letters, diaries, and poems by Parker, Inside Bonnie Parker reveals that the secret to this downward spiral is just as cliched' as and much more satisfying complex than watching Dunaway gaze adoringly at Beatty on the big screen. Bonnie Parker screwed up because she fell in love.

Black and Sedgwick have not flinched from reviving as stage dialogue the school girl dreaminess, the dopey True Romance yearnings of Parker.

It is because Sedgwick's performance possesses such laser-eyed sincerity that these become almost as chilling as the brilliant valentine-card narration by Sissy Spacek in Terrance Malick's Badlands, another tale of a good girl gone bad. Of course, Spacek revealed underlying layers of sociopathic disregard in her character, while Sedgwick makes Bonnie Parker sympathetic without apologizing for her.

Most of us will probably not be drawn into bank robbery by our desire to love and be loved, but Sedgwick cannily understands that if we are honest with ourselves the concessions people make for love, however tiny or extreme, exist on the same continuum. It's that deadly desire to be engulfed by somebody that presses all the right buttons that must be guarded against. If that somebody happens to be a Clyde Barrow or a Charles Starkweather, well are you absolutely certain that when you were a teenager, you had the courage to pull out before it was too late?

Alone onstage for almost two hours, the gamine Dixie Lee Sedgwick as Bonnie Parker has a trained dancer's grace that prevents her early, restless Parker from seeming fidgety, whether she's itching to bolt from her first marriage to philanderer Roy Thorton or holed up in an abandoned church on a rainy night, anxiously awaiting the arrival of her outlaw lover. As the play progresses and Parker becomes at once more frightened and more defiant and, eventually, crippled after she's pinned beneath Clyde's car in a horrifying wreck, Sedgwick slows down and becomes graver, heavier, and resigned to a bad end. If she started out with the hope that her ardor and support would soothe Barrow's wounded soul and even rehabilitate him, she sticks beside him through a bond of escalating mutual injury. Rather than being delivered to the audience, a device often praised as knocking down the forth wall but sometimes also flattening the drama with a pedantic pleading quality, Sedgwick words are usually spoken to unseen characters and, interestingly, they are often women. The fact that she is usually speaking about Clyde Barrow rather than to him is the play's psychological trump card. This character will reveal more about herself when she's rationalizing and justifying her life choices to another, perhaps judgmental female ear than when she's drowning in Barrow's long lashed brown eyes. And therein, of course, lies the only explanation you need as to why the little blue-eyed girl turned into the bullet-riddled corpse of American criminal legend. However outrageous the Barrow Gangs antics became, Clyde continually offered Bonnie a gift that many of us yearn for; a refuge from thinking about herself, her decisions, her future. Understanding this, the Bonnie Parker of Sedgwick and Black's play suddenly become approachable. In Inside Bonnie Parker, she's no longer the sexy, stylish pinup moll of the 30s tabloids and 60s Hollywood. She's the articulate young woman who was smart enough to want something better for herself but tragically dumb enough to sink that desire in a handsome killers adoring gaze.
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Powerful, poignant Bonnie Parker:
By Perry Stewart
Star-Telegram Theatre Critic-Fort Worth Star-Telegram     3 1/2 stars

Fort Worth - Circle Theatre has made a good home for one-woman shows. This small downtown space has welcomed the acrid wit of Dorothy Parker (in One Foot in Scarsdale) and the poetic solitude of Emily Dickinson (in The Belle of Amherst.)

Bonnie Parker makes it a trio. Yes, that Bonnie Parker - bank robber Clyde Barrow's significant other. Written and acted by Dixie Lee Sedgwick, Inside Bonnie Parker draws a vivid, if predictably depressing portrait of the 1930s "gun moll" whose life on the lam was a metaphor for depression- era rootlessness. No wait, there's a link here. Bonnie also wrote poems.

Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Bonnie in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde is the one that most of us call to mind.

But the Sedgwick edition deserves a look. (In an eerie coincidence, tomorrow marks the 65th anniversary of the deaths of Barrow and Parker in a hail of gunfire.)

Sedgwick is a powerful stage presence. Her finely chiseled features and dancer lean frame seem to ensnare the audience.

Her biographical play was originally titled Little Blue-Eyed Girl, after Clyde's pet name for Bonnie. It begins in 1927, with teen-age Bonnie confiding in her diary, a handy thing to have in a one-character show. Director Joseph R. Black exploits this and other devices in a successful quest to keep the production on the move.

At 17, Bonnie is Mrs. Roy Thorton, pinning for the wandering husband who ignores her. By the end of the first act, she has taken up with ex-convict Clyde and is in jail. But she still seems heart-breakingly girlish. Sedgwick's conversation with the sheriff's wife is one of the best sequences in the show.

In the plays final scene however, there is a palpable mist of doom as Bonnie, now crippled by auto wreck injuries, talks to her mother for what she probably suspects as the last time. The speech - full of bitter wisdom, stand by your man devotion and not a shard of regret - is following by a recitation of the sad little sonnet used prominently in the movie.

But the poignancy of the moment is threatened by the spectacle of Sedgwick hopping about on Bonnie's one good leg. Yes, I know the playwright is being true to her research. But it makes for a terribly awkward exit. (Would a crutch be such a horrible compromise?)
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Theatre Review - "Bonnie Parker"
The Blue Heron Arts Centre, 24th and Park Avenue, New York, NY
By Ellen Poulsen Historian and Author

"Bonnie and Clyde have long existed as two halves of an equation. Inclusive of each other, in the manner of famous crime pairings like Sacco & Vanzetti or Leopold and Loeb, one is rarely imagined without the other.

Bonnie Parker has not been viewed through a monographic lens since Dorothy Provine starred in the 1950s "B" movie called The Bonnie Parker Story. In that attempt, Bonnie paired off with a Clyde-clone named "Guy Darrow," they ran around with his brother, "Chuck Barrow" and Bonnie modeled Dior New Look circle skirts and ballerina slippers. With enough historical inaccuracy to drive the serious researcher to drink, the Bonnie Parker story was the last time she was billed without Clyde.

Through the blitz of the 1967 Warner Bro. Seven Arts Production that catapulted Bonnie from her sideshow to the big tent, Bonnie remained at Clyde side. Thirty years later, in the late 1990s, actress and writer, Dixie Sedgwick collaborated with innovative producer/director Joe Black to interpret Bonnie Parker with accuracy and grit.

The result is Bonnie Parker, in which Sedgwick sets the standard for a compelling, historical Bonnie who reveals herself through a curious blend of emotion, objectivity, and introspection, devoid of self-pity..."

 

THEATRE-HOT TICKET
Tom Sime
Dallas Morning News

Inside Bonnie Parker by Lone Star Studios

If Bonnie Parker hadn't met Clyde Barrow, her intelligence and knack for poetry might have taken her far from Texas. Here, as half of the bank robbing Bonnie and Clyde, she lived and died in a crime spree that held the public imagination fast and never let go. Presented by Lone Star Studios, Dixie Lee Sedgwick's acclaimed one-woman play, Inside Bonnie Parker, shows us how it all began and ended for this former straight A innocent, whose reputation as the most dangerous woman of the Depression only tells part of the story. Ms. Sedgwick fleshes her out with sympathy, honesty and a firm grasp of the consequences of living wild.
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