“Cluedo” is a weird show. And this is a difficult review to write, because I think the play is much better the less prepared you are for it.
I went in expecting a standard murder mystery, with all the favourite Cluedo characters including Miss Scarlet (Michelle Collins), Professor Plum (Daniel Casey), Colonel Mustard (Wesley Griffith), Mrs White (Etisyai Philip), Mrs Peacock (Judith Amsenga) and Reverend Green (Tom Babbage). And the play does have all of these characters, but it is by no means “standard”.
The characters are called to the manor house of Mr Boddy, where they are invited to a dinner party. It isn’t long before secrets are being revealed, and the bodies start piling up. So far, so normal, right?
Except, the play leans heavily into absurd comedy elements, that catch the audience off-guard and make the whole evening somewhat perplexing. This is not really my style of comedy, although there were moments where I was genuinely in tears at the absurdity of it all. Sorry to keep using that word, but that’s the word that best sums up this play: absurd.
The star of the show is by no doubt Jean-Luke Worrell as Wadsworth the butler, whose sly asides and casual glances to the audience were one of the main sources of laughter throughout the night. One monologue in the second act (if you’ve seen the play, you’ll know what I’m talking about) had the audience in stitches, and it is amazing that Worrell was able to continue after that and not simply collapse down exhausted.
The set is a bit like a giant board game, unfolding and opening up to reveal new rooms within the manor. All of the standard Cluedo elements are there – the murder weapons, the locations and the wildly flying accusations. The script is such a perfect homage to the boardgame – there are lots of things for fans to enjoy here.
The play is by no means perfect though. Some parts seemed a little slow – in particular, the moving of chairs seemed to get repetitive after a while, as did the constant walking from room to room. The mystery is a bit too convoluted to make much sense, and the conclusion leaves a little to be desired. After a lengthy conversation on the way home, myself, Paula and Elise still struggled to figure out what was going on.
Overall, this was an enjoyable evening – some moments will live in our memories for a long time – but I doubt it will be a play I’m rushing to see again any time soon.
“Cluedo” is currently touring the UK, and plays at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 5th March.
Tom Morley, March 2022