SIDMOUTH – MANOR PAVILION THEATRE – until 25 September 2021
CLUE THE MUSICAL
1 hours 20 minutes – No interval
Manor Pavilion Theatre Box Office – 01395 514413
REVIEW – CORMAC RICHARDS – 20 SEPTEMBER 2021
There can’t be too many people who haven’t played a game of Cluedo in their lives and maybe it was only a matter of time before a stage version was created – but it did take until the early 1990s. The result is CLUE – The Musical; something of a 1930s pastiche show, complete with audience interaction!
Not given to miss an opportunity of ringing the changes, Paul Taylor-Mills has brought the show to the Manor Pavilion as a sort of coffee and mints following the main meal of the Summer Play Festival.
No one would suggest that this is a great show, but in the hands of the multi-talented director, Ben Stock, it is enormous fun and an ideal entertainment for the end of the summer.
Featuring all the characters from the board game and with a smart set (designed by David Shields) featuring the doors to the Kitchen, Ballroom, Study etc – as well as two large dice and two-dimensional weapons – there is great familiarity here. With 216 possible endings, as in the game three cards a chosen by an audience member – one murderer, one room and one weapon and secreted in an envelope which is left in full view until the end. As the show progresses various clues are given to the audience to enable them to work out whodunnit, with what and where.
A Mr Boddy (Dr Black in the UK version of the game) acts as MC for the evening’s events, offering clues both before and after his own death. I am not sure how the script works, but it would seem that whoever plays the role has to deal with multiple changes in the script each performance – or maybe I am wrong….. Tom Sankey cuts a sharp figure distributing hints and suggestions with aplomb. The backgrounds to the characters provides many a clue to the motives for murder and the performers relish their individual storylines. Basienka Blake provides the much-married Mrs Peacock with a stately grandeur while Nicola Blackman brings a wonderfully saucy West Indian flavour to Mrs White. Alex Gibson-Giorgio, complete with fabulous suit of green check, is a jack-the-lad cum spiv as Mr Green and James Horne a suitably pompous Colonel Mustard – with something of a naughty side to him. Aimee Hodnett is the slinkily suspicious Miss Scarlett and Matthew Jay Ryan a youthful intellect as Professor Plum. All the main characters are dressed very appropriately in their individual colours – which are also reflected at times with the lighting design. Post-murder, a new character appears – The Detective – a wonderfully full-bodied performance from Claire Greenaway.
There is no room for subtlety here; the cast fully embrace the corny nature of the show and the director has patently given them licence to push their performances to the limit. They play the characters with a glint in the eye and the tongue firmly in the cheek.
As a musical, it is less successful. The music – there are three people credited with its composition – is completely unmemorable, but the performers sing well to the accompaniment of Olivia Wormald on the keyboard. The book and lyrics are fun and peppered with some in-jokes about this and other board games.
I was very much reminded of a rather better musical whodunnit in the same vein, ‘Something’s Afoot’ but making the most of the material you have is what is achieved here and the audience were heartily entertained. The programme offers you a list of all suspects, weapons and rooms for you to tick off as you take in the clues; not particularly easy to follow, but, again, it’s just a bit of fun and at least one person guessed correctly.
For an un-demanding but divertingly different entertainment, you could do far worse than ‘CLUE – The Musical’ and this production brings a smile to the face and a look over the shoulder for anyone with a candlestick, lead pipe, rope…………
BOOK BY – PETER DEPIETRO
LYRICS BY – TOM CHIODO
MUSIC BY – GALEN BLUM, WAYNE BARKER, VINNIE MARTUCCI
DIRECTOR – BEN STOCK
DESIGN – DAVID SHIELDS
LIGHTING & SOUND OPERATION & DESIGN – STAGE TECHNICAL SERVICES LTD.
COSTUME SUPERVISOR – JANET HUCKLE
PRODUCER – PAUL TAYLOR-MILLS
PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATOR – CLAIRE EVANS