Cluedo – The Play

I own four different versions of the Cluedo boardgame, often play Cluedo on the computer, was an avid watcher of the TV gameshow of Cluedo as a child, have seen the eighties movie Clue a billion times, and even read the Clue comic. When I heard there was now a theatrical version of Cluedo touring the country, of course, I bought tickets on the day of release. How could I miss it?

The premise of the play is simple and closely follows that of the boardgame and the eighties film, but is set in the UK….

When Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Mrs Peacock, Reverend Green, Mrs White and Colonel Mustard arrive at a party one stormy evening, they are surprised to find they have all recieved the same intriguing invitation from Mr Boddy. It soon becomes clear that they all have something to hide as the mystery and hysteria grows and the inhabitants of Boddy Manor are killed off with a variety of familiar weapons, leaving everyone to wonder, who will be next!

My dream come true, from the director of The Play That Goes Wrong, this new, hilarious whodunnit ticked all of my Cluedo-loving boxes!

As soon as I walked into the Alexandra Theatre auditorium I got tingles – the Cluedo set looked amazing. A simple, yet effective, set up – one room, with brightly coloured doors around the outside matching the characters’ colours within the game. As the play began, I was even more enthralled by how the set was being used – as characters walked through the doors, walls moved, opening and closing, to reveal the various Cluedo rooms we all know and love. I particularly loved seeing the secret passage being used from the conservatory to the lounge…a lovely touch!

The characters were distinct and instantly recognisable – both their personalities and costumes fitted in nicely with the characteristics of the well-loved Cluedo characters. The men were exagerated stereotypes and instantly the audience and I developed a love-hate relationship with them: we met Professor Plum (played by Midsummer Murders‘ Daniel Casey), a cad and a womaniser, and Colonel Mustard, an aristocrative chap, who was very stuck up and thought he always knew best. Reverend Green, on the other hand, was a wet blanket, weak and wimpy! Our female characters did not disappoint either, powerful and standout, we met Miss Scarlett (my fave of the Cluedo characters and played by Eastenders‘ Michelle Collins), a seductive and beautiful lady of the night, contrasting nicely alongside Mrs Peacock, a drunk, upper-class politician’s wife. Most surprisingly, Mrs White was not the dowdy cook we are familiar with from the board game, but a classy, mysterious widow with five dead husbands up her sleeve…very suspicious and a nice addition to the clan!

However, even though the six board game characters were fantastic, the butler of Boddy Manor, Wadsworth, stole the show. He was the stand-out performer, leading us through the action, and had the audience laughing from start to finish, hamming it up at every opportunity. To my delight, all of the characters were playing up to the audience, cracking one-liners, looking at the audience for laughs, and even moving the set and furniture around in hilarious form. I could not stop laughing!

It is worth noting, working out whodunnit is hard to pinpoint during the show, as you are more often than not distracted by the hilarity on stage. It was pleasing to see this was more than just a play for laughs – mystery fans will also get their kicks from trying to solve the abundance of crimes that unfurl. A top tip for the eagle-eyed audience member – pay attention to who is off stage and when!

This play is fast-paced and very much a physical performance, alongside the quick-witted dialogue; the characters’ use of the stage adds hugely to the comedy element. Characters creep around the set, bumping into one another, and getting themselves into all sorts of sticky spots. There is a really fantastic moment, when all of the characters appear in slow motion and it ended up getting a round of applause – so funny and cleverly executed but I won’t spoil it for you! Special effects such as well-timed thunder or flashing lights also create an atmosphere, and are a key part of the comedy too, excellently added to enhance the storyline.

Cluedo Easter eggs pleasingly litter the show (I mean that is why fans would go and see this, right?): from the distinct character colours, to the appearance of all of the key Cluedo weapons (the candlestick, revolver, spanner, lead pipe, rope and dagger) and the inclusion of the secret passage, fans are not disappointed. My fave Easter egg – when accusations fly again and again, the key phrase, “It’s (insert character) with the (insert weapon), in the (insert room),” is used by the characters perfectly and doesn’t miss a beat.

Mystery fans will not be disappointed. This murder mystery spoof has got to be one of the best whodunnits on stage I have seen in a long time – an absolute theatrical gem – I want to go and see it again!

Was it Miss Scarlett, with the candlestick in the dining room, or Professor Plum, with the lead pipe in the library…? Grab a ticket, and go and find out. It is touring the UK through until the end of July – more information can be found on the Cluedo Stage Play website.

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