Another reviewer has noted that there is a lot of charm on offer at this year’s Fringe and asked if charm is enough to make a show. This question is pertinent to Proto-Type Theater’s Third Person: Bonnie And Clyde Redux, in which the highly personable Gillian Lees and Andrew Westerside seek to deconstruct and retell the story of Depression-era teen gangsters Bonnie Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow.
The auditorium is normally a conference centre and the black and chrome environment is nicely mirrored in the technology used for the performance: two video cameras and an overhead projector. It’s the most lo-tech item, the OHP, which is most effective. A series of slides are used to excellent and original comic effect to present a willfully homespun account of episodes in the lives of these legendary killers and robbers. Proto-Type are deconstructing not just the story, but the very process of story-telling. The trouble is: so's everyone else these days. When everything's been deconstructed, what's left to do?
There is a nicely ironic contrast between the rough and ready and violent lives of the protagonists and the genteel precision of the story-tellers: nicely illustrated when Gillian cuts and juices two lemons to make Andrew a lovely glass of lemonade. She very carefully rolls the lemons before cutting and puts the knife carefully back in place before proceeding - while also playing Bonnie (or is it herself?) describing her feelings about not having children. And much fun is had with a doughnut, although on that score my lips are sealed - unlike Gillian’s.
The answer to the question posed above is yes and no. Without the performers’ charm, this show could not exist. In that sense, the show is the performers; they are the show. There is also effective writing; in fact the least successful moment is where Gillian and Andrew leave the script to improvise the answer to the question: could they have done what Bonnie and Clyde did?
In the end, though, you have to ask whether all this takes you on a journey that opens your heart or your mind to something new in the human condition. Entertaining and recommendable though it is, the truth is that it doesn’t.