Clue – on stage

‘Clue – on Stage’ is a One Act, uproarious black comedy based on the film script ‘Clue’; penned by Somerset born TV personality, Jonathan Lynn in conjunction with the classic boardgame Cluedo. Initially, the idea was slow to take off, but it is now a cult play suitable for budding detectives 12-year-olds upwards.

Jonathan Lynn (born 3 April 1943) studied Law at Pembroke College, Cambridge but very soon became a stage and film director, producer, writer, and actor. He is known for directing comedy films such as ‘Nuns on the Run’, ‘My Cousin Vinny’ and ‘The Whole Nine Yards’. He co-created and co-wrote the television series ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ and wrote some episodes of Doctor at Large.

In 2018, the 1985 film version of Clue was updated and adapted for the stage by Jonathan Lynn, with additional material added by Hunter Foster, Eric Price and Sandy Rustin. This very funny 90-minute comedy / whodunit will keep you guessing (and laughing non-stop) to the very end.

This brilliant production can be seen at the Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street, Guildford. The season runs each Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 22nd May. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm, and one extra matinée on Saturday 15th also at 2.00 pm. NO INTERVAL.

The Scene:           The USA. A deserted New England mansion, 1954.

The Set:                 A single large rear flat with a panelled wall on one side and a plain white wall on the other. This was mounted on the stage’s centre revolve and became several rooms. Large dining tables appeared for one scene, though knowing this tiny stage I can only wonder where they came from. A front door mounted on castors.

Set designer:      Most inventive. Matthew Moynihan.

Lighting and soundscape design:               The number of sound effects, lighting cues and blackouts were possibly the most I have seen in years. They were the talented work of Taylor Broadley. The creepy effects, the split-second timing never missed a beat. Magnificent work.                  

Technical operation:       Matthew Roberts, Stuart Ridgeway and Geoff Holt. The most competent technical co-ordinator was Caileb Hombergen-Crute

Photography by Perfectly Picturesque Photography.

Props master James Gillespie and his assistant Sean Wcislo came up with the Cluedo murder implements and a live cat (Macaroni or Linguine)!

Preliminary stage manager:         Rebecca ‘Bec’ Dilley worked extremely hard in the planning of this extraordinarily complex, fast moving production, however, Bec for reasons beyond her control handed over the Stage Management to Darby Sinclaire who has carried on the superb work. The exceptionally busy and hardworking stagehands James Gillespie, Jason Jones, Sean Wcislo, Harry Compton and Tarryn McGrath. This team were slick and very well organised.

The beginning of the play is remarkably similar to Agatha Christie’s ‘Ten little Indians’ or ‘… And then there were None’.

In 1954, six strangers are invited to a dinner party thrown by an anonymous host. They arrive at an isolated New England mansion to be greeted by an anxious, British style butler and narrator, Wadsworth (Zack Inglis – fabulous) and the sexy but enigmatic French maid, Yvette (Natalia Myslinska). The cook (Amy Swerlowycz) lingers in the background with a meat cleaver in her hand.

On arrival, Wadsworth presents each guest with a pseudonym. There is a haughty, senile war veteran, Colonel Mustard (Scott Sulak) whose brain is 20 seconds behind everyone else; a pale, gloomy woman, dressed in black widow’s weeds, Mrs White (Lauren Buckels); a Bible thumping and hysterical Senator’s wife, the disturbed Mrs Peacock (Kate Manson) in a peacock blue dress and wearing a huge wooden crucifix around her neck.

A timorous, pedantic man, dressed in tweeds melds into the crowd, he is Mr Green (Sean Wcislo – alternating with Jonathan Hoey); a retired psychiatrist, Professor Plum (Victoria Abbott) has a romantic twinkle in her eye; proud of her sexy lifestyle and resultant wealth is the derisive brothel madam, Miss Scarlet (Kamara Churchill or Darby Sinclaire) dressed in fishnet stockings, scarlet dress and leather bodice / belt.

                Then there is the mysterious Mr Boddy, whom we never meet, a man who Wadsworth reveals is a blackmailer. Mr. Boddy has sent each guest a weapon – a candlestick, a knife, a lead pipe, a revolver, a rope, and a wrench.

The lights go out. A gunshot rings out and … well, you must see the show.

Several important cameos were played by Amy Swerlowycz and Mason Allen.

This production was an instant sell-out, but Melville are putting on their interpretation in about three months. As the show has three possible endings, do not expect the same again.

The costumes and dummies were designed by Tashlin Church with extra tailoring by Tarryn McGrath. The characters’ personalities were instantly recognisable by the colour and style of their outfits.

This genre of play MUST be slick, fast paced, presented tongue in cheek and with a dry, straight-faced delivery – or occasionally way over the top, hammy acting. Every actor was finely tuned into the script and the action. The play ran for ninety minutes without a single hitch.

Director Jordan D’Arcy has done a superb job, even in the scenes of pandemonium and panic. When a small stage has a dozen characters constantly moving around, it can be a scene for disaster; but even with the ‘pass the parcel’ episode, each player knew precisely their next move, stage position and reaction. Stage choreography like this does not come easily, it takes hard work – extremely hard work and full concentration by all.

Possibly one of the best play productions I have seen recently. The characters, costumes, direction, set, sound, lighting, and stage management were all at their very best.

An amazingly good production and one of the funniest nights out in many months. Deserved the standing ovation.