mujrder most foul


The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham


Amid the somewhat dubious claims that pretty much everything dear old Blighty does these days is world beating, we are certainly in the top one when it comes to one thing . . . the art of daftness.

For a start we gave the world modern panto – that they didn’t actually take it is their problem, and then we have a fine record of comedy described as surreal, abstract, theatre of the absurd and so on – but it can all be summed up with one simple, four letter word . . . daft.

There was The Goons, A Resounding Tinkle, A show Called Fred, Monty Python, The Play That Goes Wrong, soon to go wrong again at the Alex, and now Cluedo!

For those who know the famous board game, invented in Birmingham incidentally, this is familiar territory as Miss Scarlett (Michelle Collins), Mrs. White (Etiyai Philip) and Mrs. Peacock (Judith Amsenga) turn up at the spooky Boddy Manor along with Prof Plum (Daniel Casey), Rev Green (Tom Babbage) and  Col Mustard (Wesley Griffith).

There is a terrible storm outside, (flash of lightning, crash of thunder), the road is flooded and the bridge is down so there is no escape from the mansion which, by coincidence has a billiard room, lounge, library, study, kitchen, conservatory etc, all off the hall.

The guests have been summoned by letter and their host Mr. Boddy, soon to be Boddy by name and also by nature, gives each of the guests a gift, a wrench, a gun, a knife, a lead pipe, a candle stick and a snake . . . sorry, length of rope.

Greeting them is the butler, Wadsworth, a wonderful performance from Jean-Luke Worrell, the maid Yvette (Laura Kirman), who is not really French, and the cook (Meg Travers) who has all the charm of a grizzly bear with toothache.

Slowly we find out more about the characters, Miss Scarlet is  . . . well, a scarlet woman, or more a Madame in this case, The prof, a struck-off medico, is a bit of a would be ladies’ man while the Colonel, works in intelligence, not that intelligence and the Colonel often appear on the same page, let alone same sentence. He makes being just stupid appear to be merely an ambition. 

cluedo cast alex

Mrs. Peacock, a bent minister’s wife, has a drink habit while Miss White seems to have a love life which consists of getting herself married and then getting herself widowed – how much her late husbands consented to the latter part of the relationship is unclear.

The Rev Green is gay and accident prone and as dynamic as  . . . let’s just leave it as accident prone.

So, the scene is set for some remarkably well timed and well drilled choreographed mayhem all to a harpsichord accompaniment (Michael Holland).

Bodies pile up, a stranded motorist, a passing policeman and a singing telegram (huh?) who turn up on the doorstep, end up dead and there is room for a twist, or rather half a dozen twists at the end, or ends as we seem to have a lot of them with alternative reruns.

A mention on Press night for Harry Bradley, by the way, who arrives as a policeman wanting to use the phone and loses his moustache mid speech – damn this cheap spirit glue - providing extra laughs with Wadsworth as they milked it for all it was worth, cleverly turning a mishap into a comic moment.

The play was written by Sandy Rustin, based on Jonathan Lynn’s screenplay for Clue. Lynn being better known as a co-writer for Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, and it is directed by Mark Bell who took the reins (there were reins?) for The Play That Goes Wrong.

Everything is done with impeccable timing, the essential element for any comedy, on a brilliant set from David Farley with six doors and fold out walls to create the familiar rooms.

There are some clever moments as well, such as the slow motion fall of the chandelier to land on the Rev Green, or the rapid rewinds to take us to alternative endings.

As we said at the start the play is daft, silly to the extreme, with inane jokes, physical humour and a few murders chucked in for good measure,

The plot is . . . should we just say, well hidden, while the only point of the whole thing is to give you a laugh, lots of them in fact. The result is an enjoyable night of stupid, daft nonsense, and don’t we all need a dose of that from time to time. Bodies will be dropping like flies at Boddy Manor to 07-05-22. 

Roger Clarke


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