Writer: Sandy Rustin
Director: Mark Bell
A new British play based on an American play that was based on an American film that was based on a British board game… yes, you read that correct! Sandy Rushtin’s new Cluedo-based farcical play has all the right components to make for an enjoyable evening. However, much like its outdated board game ancestor, the enjoyment wears thin and it’s not as exciting or as interesting as one might have hoped for.
Set in the 1940s at a country estate Mr A Body, has invited a host of guests all under various pseudonyms to attend a rather murderous dinner party. Just like the host, the guests all have their own secrets and it’s during this mysterious evening that we start to unravel just what Miss Scarlet (Michelle Collins), Professor Plum (Daniel Casey), Colonel Mustard (Wesley Grittith), Mrs White (Etisyai Philip), Mrs Peacock (Judith Amsenga), Reverend Green (Tom Babbage) and estate staff Yvette (Laura Kirman) and Butler Wadsworth (Jean-Luke Worrell) have to hide!
Within the cast there are some excellent performances – Amsenga is a hoot as the old MP’s wife and Worrell’s strange presence as Wadsworth is a real focus puller. Strong support comes from Harry Bradley in a multitude of cameo’s which all seem to end in comical disasters! It is, however, the performance of Tom Babbage as Reverend Green that really steals the show – it’s also quite possibly the only time a Manchester audience can really feel empathy and an emotional connection towards a bumbling apologetic conservative!
Director Mark Bell – who is perhaps best known for his work with Mischief Theatre Company, firmly plants his physical comedy trademark all over the piece – One especially enjoyed the moments poking fun out of the game mechanics of travelling between rooms. Bell ensures the pace of the production fires on all cylinders and that the cast never have a chance to sit back and relax especially on David Farley’s set design, which holds plenty of surprises and clues to the final moments of the play… but Bell’s direction means you have to be sharp-witted and have eyes like a hawk to spot them.
Cluedo is enjoyable evening at the theatre and the performances are brilliant – It’s just a shame that Sandy Rustin’s text, feels rather weak and reliant on the same joke over and over again, its almost murderously under-written and much like its on-stage protagonists is its ultimate downfall.
Runs until Sat 2 July 2022 and continues on UK tour!