UK

Richmond Theatre’s Cluedo – Srisha Pirabaharan, Kingston Grammar School

Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett, Reverend Green, Professor Plum, Miss Peacock … with 6 weapons and their reputations at stake, how will they unearth the vicious murderer amongst them after meeting for the very first time in the eerie, spine-tingling Boddy mansion? 

After making a nationwide appeal on a major tour, the classic whodunnit board game-based play has finally made its way to the UK at Richmond Theatre, initiating a frenzy among local comedy and crime fiction enthusiasts. After being mysteriously invited to a dinner party in a well-off English country manor house and being told to reveal nothing about themselves, players – each with their own dark secrets – must scramble to convict someone in the room of the rising manslaughter around them, after being blackmailed for their disturbing criminal histories. Based on the cult classic game, Cluedo, the hilarious play follows the characters and their host, the uncanny butler – Wadsworth. As each of their likely murder motives are unraveled and the mansion body count escalates, only one question remains … Whodunnit?

Whilst watching the play myself on the 8th of March, I was blown away by director Mark Bell and writer Sandy Rustin’s ability to make me feel frustrated, amused, and confused all at once. I found myself enthralled with laughter and suspicion as I followed the witty, rib-tickling production. However, what stood out to me the most was the breathtaking and unique set design which added an element of elegance to the play, the swift and humorous transitions between scenes, and a myriad of cleverly orchestrated segments.

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Set designer, David Farley cleverly used one room with seven doors which each unraveled to display a new room in the mansion. As opposed to blackouts in which new rooms would be installed, this concept allowed smooth transitions and a comical response from the audience as each room would be slid open by witty personality, Wadsworth – played by the gifted Jean-Luke Worrell. Transitions between scenes were further performed with a humorous appeal to the audience as when it was time for furniture to be rearranged and new objects to be brought on stage, instead of people dressed in black attempting to discreetly move around the stage, the actors themselves would prepare the stage for the next scene. They would lift chairs above their heads and weapons clutched in hand whilst dancing around on beat to fruitful music before performing the next scene. This childish yet clever tactic was hugely appreciated by the audience as they roared with laughter.

My favorite scenes included the sensational slow-motion scene and the fast-paced summary scene. In the slow-motion scene, a misfired gunshot hits a chandelier which enters the characters into a slow-motion panic. The chandelier plummets in the same time frame as it slowly falls onto Reverend Green who, throughout the play, is prone to numerous injuries. Something about watching 7 figures consumed in a state of distress– eyes wide and eyebrows raised – but all in slow motion unleashed significant hilarity amongst the audience. In contrast, another scene which stood out to me was one of high-speed as Worrell performed an uproarious segment in which he raced through a summary of everything that had happened so far – reciting the most hilarious lines, mimicking the other characters, and using dramatic expression all at once to create an ultimately, astonishing performance which raised applause from the audience and allowed a quick catchup before the final verdict was revealed.

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After the play was over, I asked 15-year-old audience member Sofia Ferreiro about what she thought, here’s what she had to say: “I really loved the whole modern element to it – it had jokes for all ages and my favorite part would have to be when the butler recited the whole play in 15 seconds – it was cleverly crafted!”

Overall, the play was frantic and chaotic in the best way possible – it was a pleasure to watch the mayhem unfold and follow along with my own suspicions of who the murderer could be. The shocking plot twists are ones that I will never forget. You can catch some more performances as brilliant as this one such as Dracula, Crooners, and BalletBoyz – Deluxe at Richmond Theatre.


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