cue cast


Wolverhampton Grand


Colonel Mustard, in the billiard room, with the revolver? Miss Scarlett in the library, with the candlestick? Reverend Green in the conservatory with the lead pipe? All these questions and more are answered as Cluedo “A new British play, based on an American play, based on an American film, based on a British board game,” is hilariously brought to life at the Wolverhampton Grand this week.

Invented in 1944 by munitions factory worker Anthony Pratt. Cluedo the board game has become a global phenomenon. After buying it myself one year many moons ago with my Christmas money,

I thought I knew all there is to know about this tale of murder and mystery. After doing some research I was a little fascinated to see just how many different iterations of Cluedo there have been (it even sparked a memory of the 1990 ITV game show) and intrigued as to what that meant for this production?

It starts, one dark and stormy night. The setting, a country manor, and a maid going about her duties as she listens to the wireless. So far so Agatha Christie. Suddenly the stage is lit up by a flash of lightning, a figure illuminated at the front door, is the poor maid to be done in already?

Nope, luckily it’s just the Butler, Wadsworth (who Butles) played by Jean-Luke Worrell. Not appearing in the game and famously played by Tim Curry in the 1985 film, Wadsworth is a fourth wall breaking-master of ceremonies-Emcee type character who both corrals and manipulates the poor unsuspecting players of the game.

Jean-Luke Worrell is exceptional in this role. With his razor sharp grin he brings to mind that Little Crocodile “How cheerfully he seems to grin, how neatly spread his claws” and while there are moments where you can see the influences of Tim Curry’s portrayal, it is Worrell’s incredible physicality that really makes his the standout performance of the play.

Fans of the game will be pleased to hear that all the original characters are present. Scarlett, White, Peacock, Mustard, Plum and Green, however are all pseudonyms given to them, along with an invitation to spend the evening at Boddy Manor.

The mystery of who invited them and why is soon revealed when we are introduced to Mr Boddy…Played here by Harry Bradley in the first of his multiple roles as Ensemble Man. I have to take a moment to give props to Bradley here. Multi-roling is not an easy task, things go wrong, moustaches fall off faces and it takes a special talent to take those moments and turn them into sheer hilarity, without letting the action lose momentum, as Bradley did last night.

Gifting each of his guests a weapon (candlestick, rope, knife etc) Boddy reveals his nefarious intentions for the group. Each of them is being blackmailed and the only way out of the situation is to kill poor Wadsworth who has the only key to the now locked front door.

Yes the plot is wafer thin, but this twist does it’s job which is to serve as a catalyst for the farcical shenanigans that ensue. Scarlett, White, Peacock, Mustard, Plum and Green (played by Michelle Collins, Etisyai Philip, Judith Amsenga, Wesley Griffith, Daniel Casey and Tom Babbage respectively) are now fighting for their lives as well as their reputations and as the body count piles up, thanks to additional ensemble cast members Laura Kirman and Meg Travers, so do the laughs.

clue cast hunt

Director Mark Bell, does a good job of balancing a fairly large ensemble cast. Each of their characters is easily recognisable from the foppish Colonel Mustard to the slightly batty Mrs Peacock. Bumbling Reverend Green providing the slapstick, Mrs White and Miss Scarlett providing drastically different versions of the femme fatale and lothario Professor Plum. Each of the characters are given the opportunity to flex their comedic muscle in both spotlighted character moments and as an ensemble as a whole.

It’s those moments when the cast are all together in a scene that really standout. From the opening dinner party to the highly chaotic and meticulously choreographed “search the house” scene, Director Bell and Movement Director Anna Healy have clearly worked to make sure that the movement is always interesting and serves the characters.

I’m always a fan of scene changes being done by the actors rather than by stage crews or remotely. It works so effectively here in part due to a surprising set design by David Farley. Each door on stage holds a secret and Healey takes full advantage of this creating scene changes that keep hold of the audience's attention, never letting the pace drop for a second.

The second act is certainly faster paced than the first and jam packed with twists, turns, endings, rewinds and alternative endings but more importantly, probably the most hilarious death scene I’ve ever witnessed. I wish I could reveal which of the cast is responsible for it but that would be giving too much away.

This latest version of Cluedo is not breaking any new ground nor is it really doing anything completely unexpected but what it does do it does very well. Mixing a colourful cast of characters with the nostalgia of family game nights gone by, throwing in some classic comedy action, Cluedo is a comedy crowd pleaser that does the legendary board game proud. To 16-o7-22.

Janine Henderson


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