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Cluedo at Malvern Theatres - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Movie Clue turned into stage comedy farce
Based on the American farcical movie Clue, expect plenty of whodunnit silliness rather than a serious murder mystery in this crazy play.

Cluedo, Malvern Theatres, UK tour
Characters from the famous game come to life

Cluedo is touring the UK with a strong cast that includes Midsomer Murders former detective Troy (Daniel Casey) swapping over to play a suspect rather than a cop.

Casey plays Professor Plum while Eastenders actress Michelle Collins joins him on stage as Miss Scarlet. They are among a motley crew recreating all the Cluedo suspects in an eccentric, bizarre story that brings them all together at a creepy Manor House.

Greeted by a butler named Wadsworth at a house designed by Waddington - a nod to the original company that made the board game - they work their way through all the rooms as the body count rises. Everything from the study to the billiard room features, even the secret passageway, for those that love the game.

I caught the show at Malvern Theatres where it stays until Saturday June 25. The set is extremely clever, allowing rooms to pull out into the main stage area and part of the main enjoyment is seeing the well-known board game brought to life. There are plenty of murders too for the blood-thirsty among us.

Cluedo, Malvern Theatres, UK tour
Daniel Casey and Michelle Collins headline

What splits the crowd is the comedy. It's very silly, slapstick and American, but then it is based on a US screenplay. Producers Joshua Andrews and Stuart Galbraith of Kilimanjaro Theatrical have brought this to stage by working with US producing partners Work Light Productions, Lively McCabe Entertainment and The Araca Group.

Personally, I enjoyed this farce at breakneck speed but I knew what to expect. I have seen the 1985 film Clue, starring Tim Burton as the butler, and enjoyed it for all its bizarre ridiculousness.

But I know many who have seen this stage production and just not taken to it. Some have found the comedy not subtle enough and others were expecting more of a standard murder mystery.

Cluedo, Malvern Theatres, UK tour
Jean-Luke Worrell is likeable as butler Wadsworth

Whatever your take on the comedy, the actors' frenetic commitment to their roles isn't in doubt. Jean-Luke Worrell as butler Wadsworth is key to making this a success. His physical attributes and devilish smile build up a rapport with the audience quickly.

Collins and Casey get fully immersed in their roles and seem to be enjoying themselves. It's a strong cast all round, based around caricatures for each role. Tom Babbage is a dopey Reverend Green, Wesley Griffith makes Colonel Mustard a comically nice but dim aristocrat.

Etisyai Philip as Mrs White and Judith Amsenga as Mrs Peacock finish off the suspicious animated group that all wear colours aligned to the names and weapons to match the famous game.

This new production is directed by Mark Bell, who was behind the award-winning The Play That Goes Wrong, but this isn't as slick as that.

For those that have seen the movie, parts of it will strike a chord. The singing telegram girl that appears was as strange in the film as it is on stage but meant to be a surreal moment. Interestingly, Jane Wiedlin, formerly of The Go-Go's and a 1980s solo star with song Rush Hour, actually played this brief role of the singing telegram in the film.

My advice is to go along and enjoy Cluedo for what it is - a fast-paced, ridiculously silly spoof.


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Why? See silly who-dunnit starring Midsomer Murders star
When: Until June 25 and then touring UK
Phone: 01684 892277
Where: Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern and Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham
Cost: From 26.88
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