Cluedo – Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Reviewer: Kerrie Walters

Writer: Sandy Rustin
Director: Mark Bell

They’re names we all grew up with. Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett, Reverend Green, Professor Plum, Miss Peacock, Mrs White… and even if we didn’t really know that much about them, we did know they were wholly capable of fatally bashing someone on the head in the library with a length of lead piping or shooting someone at close range in the ballroom. And when they all arrive at a country house one dark and stormy evening, they are surprised to find they have all received the same intriguing invitation from Lord Boddy. It soon becomes clear that they each have something to hide as the mystery and hysteria grow and the inhabitants and guests of Boddy Manor are killed off one by one with a variety of familiar weapons, leaving everyone to wonder who will be next.

David Farley’s exquisitely intricate set works fantastically with this show. First shown as an open space with six individually coloured doors representing each of the iconic characters, it unfolds and expands throughout the action to reveal beautifully designed and meticulously thought-out rooms. The way in which the set reveals itself mirrors the board game and heightens the mystery as all the time we see new entrances and trap doors appear.

This is a true ensemble piece within which each performer gives an assured and comical performance. The transitions are seamless and the movement sequences are executed well. They particularly shine in the dinner table scene, where we see each, in turn, take on a murderous still image set to ominous organ playing. This polaroid snapshotting sets the tone of the show and reveals each of the players to be a very flawed individual and a viable murder suspect.

Jean-Luke Worrell is the standout performer of the evening. Taking on the role of host as butler Wadsworth, Worrell delivers a masterclass in leading a comedy. Regularly breaking the fourth wall, he develops a nonverbal relationship with the audience which is enthralled by his malevolent smirk and his knack for comedic timing. Coupled with a striking physical presence, he glides from scene to scene knowing that the audience is in the palm of his hand. His facial expressions as he pops each new section of the set in place leave the audience howling with laughter and he is constantly playing with the delivery of the lines, often stringing them out over several minutes with side-splitting hilarity. He seamlessly walks the line between serious butler and farcical amateur sleuth, with the highlight of the evening being his final soliloquy. During this climactic moment he really brings the house down with his incredible energy and exceptional comedic timing.

Tom Babbage as Reverend Green brings an elasticated physicality to the show. Reminiscent of the old comics such as Norman Wisdom in his slapstick physical comedy, his performance lifts the piece and injects an energetic and interesting dimension to the show. His onstage chemistry with the other cast members and particularly with Worrell at the end of the show is effervescent. His final monologue is delivered to uproarious laughter and is truly a joy to behold.

Anna Healey’s movement direction is flawlessly executed by the entire cast, especially in the door transitions where each cast member is trying to get rid of another. These transitions have been beautifully choreographed and are not only interesting to watch but are genuinely very funny.

Cluedo is a highly entertaining farce, delivered by an expert team of exceptionally talented actors. It is absurd and it knows it – a truly brilliant piece of light relief.

Runs Until 5 March 2022 and touring

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Absurd - and knows it

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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