Cluedo at Theatre Severn - Tuesday 12th - Saturday 16th April
Review by James Warman
The question I had as I took to my seat at Theatre Severn on Monday night was - how do you bring a board game to life? In this particular case, the board game was Cluedo, a game well-known and well-loved by generations of families, and I was about to watch Director Mark Bell’s production of Cluedo (A New Play) which is touring the country at the moment.
The answer is to have a witty script, a superb cast, excellent direction, and a clever set design. That’s what this play has in bucket loads.
In this comedy, six people are invited to a dinner party at Boddy Hall by the mysterious Lord Boddy, but are told not to reveal their real names. Instead, they are given the pseudonyms of Colonel Mustard, Mrs Peacock, Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Mrs White, and Reverend Green (sound familiar?). With the addition of the butler – Wadsworth, Yvette the maid and the cook, there follows an hilarious two hours of slapstick, puns, gags, farce and a body count that would make Quentin Tarantino blush.
Wadsworth the butler’s performance (played by Jean-Luke Worrell) was a delight to see (who knew leaving the stage could be so funny?!), as were the contributions of the rest of the cast, whose members included Michelle Collins (EastEnders) and Daniel Casey (Midsummer Murders). Special mention also has to go to Tom Babbage as Rev. Green who added an especially uproarious element of slapstick (watch out for the slow-motion sequence in the second half!).
All the familiar components of the much-loved board game were there, not just the characters. The murder weapons (candlestick, lead pipe, rope etc), the 'who, where and how' (Prof. Plum in the lounge with the revolver), and the rooms.
At this point, I should mention the rooms, and the ingenious way the set was designed to incorporate seven rooms on one stage, and the almost balletic way the scenes changed. A joy to watch!
The jokes came thick and fast, some corny, some contemporary, some visual, but all landed and were well received by the audience, including a particularly amusing moment of wardrobe malfunction, when someone’s moustache fell off. The way the two actors dealt with this mishap and then incorporated into their performance set the audience off and brought a round of applause for the ad-libbing that followed. It’s moments like that which really show the versatility of the cast.
Before I saw the show, I did wonder how relevant it would be to a younger audience who may not be familiar with the game. I’m of a generation where board games where a part of my childhood and Cluedo was probably my favourite, but I was conscious that this may not be the case for everyone. Looking around the packed theatre before the start, I saw a good mix of ages and, after the show, I realised that actually, you don’t need to know the game at all to enjoy this performance. The script, the cast, the set, everything about it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s entertainment for everyone.
Cluedo runs at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury until Saturday 16 April, so if you if want to know the who, how and where I suggest… you, in the auditorium, with a theatre ticket - book HERE