Review: Cluedo @ Lyceum Theatre
A classic whodunnit caper was in full swing at the Lyceum last night, as the ever-familiar characters of Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard et al were brought to life in the stage version of Cluedo.
The main question: just how do you translate a vintage, quintessentially British post-war board game into engaging theatre? Well, you set it in post-war Britain at a quintessentially British country home (preferably one containing a study, library, billiard room, etc).
The first half of the performance deals largely with the arrival of the guests on a stormy, ominous night in rural England, each invited by the mysterious Lord Boddy and each hiding a dark secret of their own. They are greeted by Boddy Manor’s eccentric butler Wadsworth – who seems to rather revel in the growing sense of consternation amongst the group – before being presented with boxes containing an instantly recognisable item (or, ahem, a weapon?): revolver, candlestick, lead pipe, rope… I’m sure you get the picture.
As wild accusations are made and tempers become frayed, it isn’t long before the lights go off and the first body of the night is discovered. From then on, it all descends into a frantic, silly and often hilarious tangle of murder and allegations as the guests scramble around the maligned mansion (aided by some seriously impressive set design and direction) in an attempt to save their own skin.
The script is delivered at an equally excitable pace, with jokes and one-liners – most of them falling to the dim-witted Colonel – quipped to the audience at regular intervals. Some land, some don’t, but combined with oodles of slapstick action there’s rarely a dull moment. The second half comes into its own and the play’s exhilarating denouement ensures proceedings are brought to a satisfying conclusion. It’s not quite Hercules Poirot, but it is refreshingly daft and the murder mystery element has enough bite to keep you guessing right to the final scene.
While headliners Michelle Collins and Daniel Casey were on good form in their respective roles as the sultry Miss Scarlett and pompous Professor Plum, it’s Jean Luke-Sorrell who steals the show as Wadsworth. It’s all eyes on the butler as he elegantly glides across the stage, somehow managing to raise laughter at the mere closing of a door and generally pulling the strings as this assortment of oddballs blunder through a most eventful evening.
Cluedo runs at the Lyceum Theatre until Sat 28th May. Tickets are available here.