Cluedo – Milton Keynes Theatre
Reviewer: Joe Longden
Director: Mark Bell
Cluedo, the play of the film of the famous 1949 board game; whatever your introduction to Cluedo, you will know all about the characters, the drama, the intrigue, and the classic line of ‘Miss Scarlett, in the hall with the revolver!’
A performance like this is nothing without its cast, who must deliver memorable and intriguing characters that keep us entertained and enthralled throughout. The cast of Cluedo manages this and then some with exceptional performances across the entire ensemble. And even with a change in the cast with Harry Bradley replacing Daniel Casey as Professor Plum, the performance remains flawless. From Michelle Collins’ sultry and seductive Miss Scarlett to the quirky and over the top Judith Amsenga’s Mrs Peacock, there is something to love about them all. Harry Bradley performs admirably as the Professor and Liam Horrigan, who steps in to fill the shoes of the ensemble playing multiple roles throughout, looks like he was born for the role. Etisyai Philip is sophisticated and just the right amount of overdramatic as Mrs White, and a large amount of humour comes from Laura Kirman’s Yvette, the maid with an outlandishly phoney French accent.
But the true stars are the trio of Wesley Griffith, Tom Babbage, and Jean-Luke Worrell, who play Colonel Mustard, Reverend Green and Wadsworth the butler respective. Wesley Griffith is fantastic as the bumbling Colonel Mustard whose constant misunderstandings of both conversations and circumstances are a joy to watch. Tom Babbage uses all of his physical comedy experience to bring the clumsy and accident-prone Reverend Green to life, whether he is startled by thunder or hurting himself in some way it is a constant source of laughter. Finally, Jean-Luke Worrell may look on paper like a new performer but on this stage, he is a master of his craft. Wadsworth the butler is the standout performance, his comedic timing, physical presence, and often dead-pan delivery is captivating and all-consuming. His second act summary of the story so far is magnificent; with exaggerated movements and homemade sound effects, it is worthy of a standing ovation on its own.
Supporting the cast in this endeavour is a simple but effective set designed by David Farley. The set can be manipulated by the cast, opening it out to reveal the various rooms of the large English manor house that the play (and the game) is set in. And, surprisingly, these set changes that could become boring or annoying, are themselves a source of fun and humour as Jean-Luke Worrell opens and closes the rooms with a wide grin and exaggerated movements. Warren Letton’s lighting design is another factor in the success of the play: his subtle colour shifts and less than subtle fades to black add to the tension and intrigue of the performance.
The script, written by Sandy Rustin, needs to be highlighted: a wonderful mixture of tension and humour full of references to classic film and TV, and even a few jokes sprinkled in that allude to more modern problems and ideals. And the inclusion of Zeb Soanes as the voice on the radio giving context to the narrative really helps to ground the audience in the time and place of the play. Though some choices in the script feel laboured and more annoying than funny – like the repetition of words for comedic effect – it is overall a hilarious time spent questioning everything and trying to figure out the answer to the big question of whodunnit?
Cluedo is a hilarious, and exuberant farce that doesn’t try to present itself as high drama or theatre instead it leans into comedy and nonsense and delivers a joyous evening of entertainment.
Runs Until 4 June 2022 and on tour
CLUEDO – CLEVERLY TRANSFORMED FROM THE BOARD TO THE STAGE
May 19th, 2022
Southampton Mayflower until 21st May then touring
Review: 18th May 2022
Bringing Hasbro’s (Waddington’s) Cluedo to the stage is a challenge that theatre producers wouldn’t ever consider, would they? Putting a board game on the stage? Why? comes to mind, but more importantly, how? That was until director Mark Bell got his hands on the idea from Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 film and stage play Clue (as Cluedo is known in the US). The guiding hand behind the hit, The Play That Goes Wrong has pulled together a creative team full of imagination along with a cast of comedic geniuses.
But how do you make it work? You need a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie and that comes from Jonathan Lynn, then you create a set that enables all aspects of the story to come to life and here Designer David Farley excels. The year is 1949 and Sound Designer Jon Fiber brings additional elements to the production and is able to use his skills to increase tension and surprise. Warren Letton, the Lighting Designer ensures that every element of the set and the characters suit the moment. Then the cast, hand-picked for each of the roles, it’s as though the board game characters were created specifically for each of the actors. The synchronisation of the players and the action is key to maintaining the belief and intrigue and here Movement Director, Anna Healey shines, ensuring every member of the cast moves as one superbly oiled engine. The formula in place, now what unfolds?
We’re at an English Country House where the staff are preparing to receive guests, one by one they arrive, each given a fictitious name for their visit, none aware of the other visitors or who they might be. They’re are welcomed by the butler, Wadsworth, and the ‘french’ maid, Yvette, as well as the cook. As the evening unfolds we get to know each of the characters and why they have been invited to the mansion. The rest, with murder on the cards, you will need to see for yourselves at the Mayflower this week.
The set itself is intriguing; so many doors, all opening to reveal other rooms, cleverly allowing the action to take place all over the house. Despite the picture painted, this is not a straightforward drama, nor a run-of-the-mill comedy, this develops into true British farce at its absolute best. Not since the era of the Whitehall farces have we seen anything quite like this. But we have never seen a key character played as brilliantly as Jean-Luke Worrell taking on the guise of butler, Wadsworth. This is a performance of epic proportions and he deserves every accolade and award that theatreland can throw at him. He is just starting out on his stage career having cut his teeth in The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, everything about him shouts ‘star’. I don’t mean to take anything away from the incredible performances of the other stars of the show, all have their moments to sparkle, which they take with glory.
Cluedo is a fascinating insight to what can be achieved in theatre when time and trouble are part of the formula in creating something different. This is an amazing, thrilling, hilarious and totally engaging evening that is very different to anything we’ve seen in British theatres for a very long time.
THEATRE / THEATRE ROYAL BATH
REVIEW: CLUEDO, THEATRE ROYAL BATH – ‘CLASSIC, FUN, SILLY AND CAREFREE’
By GILL KIRK, Tuesday Apr 26, 2022
If you want a classic, fun, silly and carefree night at the theatre, you must catch Cluedo at Theatre Royal Bath this week. It’s tight, funny and represents the best of theatrical comedy. In fact, it’s a brilliant ensemble piece in every way, dancing wittily over standard theatre-comedy set pieces (in one door, out another; slo-mo; chaos; confusion) with a style guaranteed to tickle the fancy of even the grumbliest of us on the trickiest of days. In short – before I give you the detail – I urge you go and see this show.
If you know the ‘80s Tim Curry movie Clue, you know the rough plot. It’s a Cluedo game come to life: on a stormy night, in a dark mansion (billiard room, library, study), strangers assemble in response to a strange invitation to dinner. Their instructions demand they all use an alias (Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard etc), and on arrival, each is given a boxed gift (candlestick, rope, lead piping…). And I’m sorry about this spoiler, but then there’s some murder.
Every element of the production hits the mark, and gives you the gift of childish joy at what the team is treating you to. David Farley’s set is nothing short of ingenious, as rooms appear, distant doors connect and there’s no doubt at all that you’re right inside the Cluedo mansion. Jon Fiber’s sound and Michael Holland’s music are a gory-glory of mischievous menace. Anna Healey’s movement direction, along with Mark Bell’s overall direction, is sublime: slick, silly, and seriously impressive.
Which brings us – of course – to the performers. What a team. While Michelle Collins (Miss Scarlett) gets top billing, she’s one great part of a truly excellent ensemble of equals. Special mention, however, must go to Jean-Luke Worrell who plays Wadsworth – the Tim Curry butler role. Not just perfect, but an utter joy. With the advantage of being the only character that isn’t a hundred per cent howling stereotype, he carries it off with knowing and cheeky delight.
Tom Babbage’s Reverend Green will steal your heart (and delivers a chandelier-near-death slo-mo that will stay with me for life); Daniel Casey’s Professor Plum and Wesley Griffith’s Colonel Mustard will make you giggle. Mrs Peacock (Judith Amsenga), Yvette (Laura Kirman) and Mrs White (Etisyai Philip) are all comedy goddesses, rounding out their respective roles with energy and wit. Meg Travers and Harry Bradley complete the ensemble in a range of roles (a brilliant ‘Mr Body’ and wonderful Cook, but that’s not all).
In short, this is how it should be done. Here’s a great troupe of entertainers – on and offstage – making a large room of people laugh. Get yourself a ticket and give yourself a treat.
Cluedo is at Theatre Royal Bath on April 25-30 at 7.30pm, with 2.30pm matinee shows on Wednesday and Saturday. Tickets are available at www.theatreroyal.org.uk.
Cluedo – Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Reviewer: Selwyn Knight
The Reviews Hub - Central15/03/20220 2 minutes read
Im Director: Mark Bell
We’ve all played Cluedo, the game where we try to mislead our fellow players while simultaneously discovering who killed whom, with what and where – with a different outcome every time. The game was first played in 1949, which also happens to be when the stage show, loosely based on the game, is set – creepy coincidence, eh?
Our six characters – Reverend Green, Colonel Mustard, Mrs Peacock, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlett and Miss White – have been summoned to Boddy Manor one stormy night. Ostensibly, their colours are pseudonyms to protect their real identities because it soon becomes clear that each has a secret they want to keep hidden and each is being blackmailed by Mr Boddy, the Manor’s owner. They’re greeted by the frankly weird butler, Wadsworth, and the evening begins.
What follows is supremely well-done farce in which the two-dimensional characters somehow come to life. Imagine a mash-up comprising the silliness of Airplane! the physicality of The Play That Goes Wrong and the plotting of And Then There Were None and you’re maybe halfway to knowing Cluedo. It’s full of quickfire witty dialogue, running gags and terrific sight gags – the realisation of the hidden passage is a joy. And it’s maybe no surprise to learn that Director, Mark Bell, also directed The Play That Goes Wrong or that several cast members have it or other Mischief titles on their CVs.
David Farley’s ingenious set is largely open but with panels that swing open to allow us to peek inside the different rooms. The movement of the cast is expertly choreographed by Movement Director, Anna Healey. It’s quite mesmerising to watch them move around and between rooms carrying various items with them as they go while occasionally striking poses in fixed tableaux, all with stupendously good timing. There’s plenty of mugging and doors opening and closing in the best of farcical tradition. The whole is fast-moving and, above all, genuinely funny.
At the centre is the slightly mysterious, but definitely outrageously camp, portrayal of Wadsworth by Jean-Luke Worrell. His physicality is terrific as he milks every last drop of humour from every action: his body doesn’t seem to be quite bolted together tightly enough. His occasional knowing smiles to the audience work particularly well. Tom Babbage brings us the timid Reverend Green, also with great physicality – his reaction when a dog outside is commanded to Sit! Is brilliantly timed. Wesley Griffith’s Colonel Mustard is believably half-witted as he struggles to keep up with the action, delivering some great one-liners with a straight face. Judith Amsenga is a hoot as Mrs Peacock, channelling her inner Mrs Thatcher in the role of the wife of a prominent cabinet minister, while Daniel Casey’s incompetent Professor Plum is also well realised. Michelle Collins brings us the sultry Miss Scarlett, down to earth brothel-keeper to the stars, while Etisyai Phillips’ Mrs White with an unexpected talent for martial arts is superbly uptight. They are supported by a small ensemble cast who play the other stock characters of murder fiction – servants, passing motorists, slow-witted police – with gusto.
Cluedo doesn’t pretend to be great art – it’s far too self-aware for that. But it is a welcome diversion from the world outside showcasing a cast bursting with talent in a very well done piece. Highly commended.
Runs Until 19 March 2022 and on tour