Writer: Sandy Rustin
Director: Mark Bell
Based On The Paramount Pictures Motion Picture
Based On The Hasbro Board Game Cluedo
Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with the rope? Perhaps Mrs Peacock in the Kitchen with the lead pipe? It is a dark and stormy night when the ensemble of colourful characters arrive at a country house armed with a mysterious invitation from Lord Boddy, and it’s not long before both the hysteria and the body count begin to grow leaving the audience guessing who the culprit could be.
Michelle Collins (Miss Scarlet) leads this stage production of Cluedo, which comes from the 1985 movie starring Tim Curry, that in turn was based on the classic Hasbro boardgame. This imagining of the mystery has been brought to life by Mark Bell (The Play the Goes Wrong) who brings with him his signature barely contained chaos as the audience watch the lives of the characters fall apart in ways they never could have foreseen.
In this fairly large cast of primary characters is it the maid and the butler who steal the show. The appearances of Laura Kirman as Yvette are often a highlight of the scene as the maid battles with both a creeping dread and her ability to keep her accent under control. Opposite her, Jean-Luke Worrell’s clearly Curry inspired Wadsworth has the unsettling butler to a tee, balancing comedic timing with dark humour to guide the characters through the mansion. His monologue in the final act is a sight, albeit an exhausting one, to behold. The other members of the cast manage their characters well, although there are a few occasions when the snappy one liners are a little smudged in the chatter and the bite of a retort is a little lost.
As should be no surprise in a Mark Bell production, a lot of time and effort has clearly gone into the design (David Farley) of the sets and the lighting (Warren Letton). The movements of the stage allow for all of the familiar rooms to appear in the main entrance hall, complete with secret passages and concealing paintings. The use of the space and the actors themselves as stagehands gives the show a sense of organised chaos which works perfectly with the narrative. The lighting, too, using the iconic colours to introduce our potential suspects brings with it a sense of what is to come in the show; something that is entirely aware of its origins and the ridiculousness of its plot, and is excited to have fun with it.
Overall, the costuming, sets, and lighting in this show are an excellent homage to the classic boardgame and the choice of moving the narrative to 1949 England as a backdrop was a wise choice. There is, perhaps, a sense on occasion that there’s a little something missing in the character back and forth when the timing of some jokes fall a little flat in a show which requires such a staccato timing. Overall, though, this is a show highly aware of the fact that it is a British play, based on an American play, based on an American film, based on a British boardgame; the wonderful ridiculousness of it all is never lost on them, and indeed the more they lean into it, the more hilarious the ensuing chaos, and the more they have the audience guessing whodunnit.
Runs Until: 12 February 2022