Adapted from the movie screenplay by original co-writer and director Jonathan Lynn.
By arrangement with ORiGin Theatrical on behalf of Broadway Licensing
Directed by Shelley Grace
Javeenbah Theatre Company, Nerang
Season 18 November – 3 December 2022.
Bookings: [email protected]
Duration: 90 minutes (plus interval)
Jonathan Lynn’s adaptation on his own American movie, inspired by the popular whodunit board game Clue – known as Cluedo in the UK – ,is a roller coaster ride of madcap laughs and cartoonish skits.
When the movie came out in 1985, along with a joint script credit for John Landis and starring the likes of Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd and Madeline Kahn, it was a slow starter.
That’s understandable as its mix of tomfoolery, zany humour and a wacky narrative arch, which does take some climatisation.
I found myself – metaphorically speaking – scratching my head and wondering, ‘what ever is going on here’ on opening night.
However, once I settled down, relaxed, and reflected that nothing in this play really matters, I began to get into the spirit of the piece.
In a world where so many things do really matter, escaping to an alternative meaningless universe is like taking a mental holiday.
The show’s host, the butler Wadsworth (delightfully played as a true ham by Daniel Dosek), introduces all the classic board game characters as they arrive at the remote manor in, of course, the middle of a storm.
The six potential killers, Mrs Peacock (Jane Thwaites), Mrs White (Gillian Crow), Professor Plum (Cassie Baan), Mr Green (Calvin Walther), Colonel Mustard (Trevor Love) and Miss Scarlett (Carole Lange) all arrive one after the other.
In fact the six present the play in a bunch, much of the time, sticking together throughout.
Of course, those aren’t their real names (that would be silly), but Wadsworth stresses that secrecy is the name of the game (and it is a game).
Naturally, everyone plays over the top as scene stealing and upstaging is not only permitted. But, I guess, encouraged under the gaze of director Shelley Grace.
There’s a few other characters thrown into the mix, a cook (Jenny White), the maid Yevette (Emma Andrews), and the show’s Mister Big, Mr Boddy (Oskar Apps-Perry), but they all end up dead.
As does a passing motorist (Blake Skuse) and a singing telegram girl (Tabitha Woods).
However, the Police Chief (Zachary-Mason Salatnay ) doesn’t get bumped off so I can only imagine he feels quite neglected.
The premise of the show is that the six colour coded characters are each given a weapon – like in the game – and learn that they all being blackmailed by Mr Boddy.
Or are they?
Who knows? Who really cares? It’s more than a bit like that but a lot of fun along the way thanks to an energetic cast and lashings of over-the-top direction.
This is a show which demands we suspend our disbelief despite the fact the audience is bombarded with reminders that Clue is a theatrical fiction.
Even the stage crew gets in on the act, but in the end it just adds to the fun.
Although Clue is largely performed in an outrageous slapstick style there’s still room for one-liners worthy of Lynn’s Cambridge Footlights beginnings and later co-work on Yes, Minister.
Last – but not least – it’s worth acknowledging the
set, which operates under the guidance of stage manager Tex Houston and revolve operator Rod Arthur.
That coupled with Colin Crow’s sound and lighting design demonstrates that you can even come of the theatre whistling the set, when its been a good show.
Both cast and extended crew deserve a pat on the back for taking us to a world where nothing really matters and fun rules.
Review by Douglas Kennedy