A candlestick, a lead pipe, a rope, a spanner, a revolver, and a dagger. 6 weapons, 6 party invites and a house looked after by a rather strange butler, and this isn’t the start of a weird joke.
I'm sure that most people have stumbled across the board game Cluedo at least once in their lives, and many have probably spent hours trying to solve who killed Mr Black and what with. The game proved so popular that it was adapted into a movie called clue, and now that movie has come roaring onto theatre stages in a uk tour full of mayhem, mystery, and murder.
Six seemingly unconnected people have all received mysterious invites to attend a party at Boddy Manor and not use their real names. They are greeted by Wadsworth (Jean-Luke Worrell), an enthusiastic and somewhat odd butler who instructs them that Mr Boddy has called them all here to expose their secrets. They are armed with weapons and asked are they willing to kill to cover up their wrong doings. What follows is an hilarious whirlwind of chases around the manor, many a questioning and a rather high body count
Your classic cluedo characters are all here. Miss Scarlet (Michelle Collins), Professor Plum (Daniel Casey), Colonel Mustard (Wesley Griffith), Mrs White (Etisyai Philip), Mrs Peacock (Judith Amsenga) and the slightly renamed Reverend Green (Tom Babbage). Along with maid Yvette (Laura Kirman) and a plethora of ensemble characters played by Meg Travers and Harry Bradley, and you’ve got a recipe for a murder mystery comedy masterclass.
Jean-Luke Worrell’s Wadsworth the butler proves a scene stealer throughout, with every movement perfectly calculated and every wide grin to the audience earning a laugh. Worrell is able to take what could be a rather sinister in places character and make the audience love him, be he buzzing around the stage with bundles of energy or holding the attention of the party goers as they hang on his every word.
If you are a mischief theatre fan like me, you may have seen Tom Babbage and Laura Kirman in last year’s UK tour of The Play that goes Wrong, where they played the roles of Max and Annie respectively. With Cluedo directed by Mark Bell, who also directed The Play That Goes Wrong, there is an air of mischief about this piece, with Kirman’s maid Yvette slipping in and out of her put on French accent (think The Pilot, not the pilot episode of the goes wrong show). Babbage’s accident prone and nervous Reverend Green also showcasing some rather goes wrong style stunts, much to the delight of the captivated audience. With Kirman’s flair for saying a lot without saying anything and Babbage’s wide-eyed innocence when faced with a number of ridiculous scenarios, Yvette and Reverend Green proved fan favourites.
Wesley Griffith’s slow on the uptake Colonel Mustard earnt many laughs as he struggled to keep up with the twists and turns, all whilst trying to maintain the idea that this was just a lovely party with Etisyai Philip’s no-nonsense Mrs White just wants the whole ordeal to be over with. As Mrs Peacock, Judith Amsenga adds to the comedy with her attempts to cover up any wrong doings. Daniel Casey’s Professor Plum’s determination to find and hide any evidence in any way possible leads to some interesting situations whilst Michelle Collins’ Miss Scarlett is driven and independent especially when paired up with Colonel Mustard. Harry Bradley and Meg Travers play multiple characters, dropping in and out of the action with ease and pushing the story along. And will we ever know if that moustache was supposed to cause as much mischief as it did?
This is a very physical play, with plenty of action and movement throughout, and a lot happens in its relatively short run time of 1 hour and 40 minutes. The set allows for a lot of action, with many a chase in and out of doors that wouldn’t look out of place in a scooby doo cartoon, and the use of the ensemble and understudies (Liam Horrigan and Georgia Bradley) is very effective along with the occasional breaking of the fourth wall.
Although painted as a comedy, and one with a book that allows very relatable digs at current political situations (much to the audience’s delight), Cluedo is still a murder mystery, and a very good one at that. The story, although full of larger-than-life characters and death scenes that could easily fit into an episode of Midsomer Murders, is crammed with twists and turns and the audience are kept guessing up until the final moments.
Overall, Cluedo is ridiculously good fun, a clever intricate murder mystery wrapped in a fast paced, witty, slapstick comedy that has something to please everyone, even if you’ve never seen the film on which it is based. Although I caught the second to last performance of the current tour, I can only hope that this production returns in some way or form one day, be that in another tour or perhaps a London transfer.