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Waterfront Festival

Theatre Review: Cluedo at Theatre Royal

1 March 22 words: Becki Crossley
photos: Craig Sugden

Becki Crossley headed down to Nottingham Theatre Royal in an attempt to figure out whodunnit...

Listening to the tinkly wireless radio playing in the auditorium and regarding the wide hall lined with doors that takes up the stage, I’m reminded of a classic shot in a Scooby Doo cartoon. The space practically guarantees a wild chase scene, and I can’t wait. As a huge fan of the movie Clue and director Mark Bell’s The Play that Goes Wrong and A Comedy About a Bank Robbery, this brand-new comedy thriller promised to tick all my boxes.

Based on the hit Paramount 1985 film, Cluedo manages to capture the witty and increasingly frantic energy of its source material. Mark Bell’s direction brings all the carefully choreographed chaos and wink-and-nod comedy of his previous plays, which compliments the story perfectly.

The entire cast, which stars Michelle Collins (EastEnders, Coronation Street) as Miss Scarlett and Daniel Casey (Midsummer Murders) as Professor Plum, trip over themselves as they scramble from room to room attempting to avoid the fate of their elusive host, Mr Boddy. This is not a play that concerns itself with realism, with the dialogue and movement of the characters always flamboyantly staged and theatrically amped up – which is all part of the fun.

Jean-Luke Worrell as Wadsworth is a standout, having mastered the art of the sly Tim Curry smile and the elongated “sirrrr”. Fans of the film will be sure to spot the influences, while still appreciating how Worrell makes the part his own.

Cluedo is a droll, nostalgic piece of theatre that brings new life to an old favourite

The set is made up of panels that swing open to reveal the Lounge, the Billiard Room, the Library and so on. A clever use of space when attempting to turn a single area into a series of revolving rooms in a seemingly endless English country manor. And as with all stage productions tasked with portraying a more extensive setting, it works best when no one tries to disguise it too much.

With characters barking at each other to move their chairs, or holding eye contact and a knowing smile with the audience as they manoeuvre pieces of set, everything adds to the absurdist nature of the play itself. The chaos compliments the plot and energy of the cast perfectly, with the best comedy contained in these frenzied moments.

Following the same beats as the film, the play quickens in pace as we edge ever-closer to finding out ‘whodunnit’ – although the joy in Cluedo isn’t in uncovering the truth. With every member of this colourful cast a suspect, each with the motive, means and of course those classic murder weapons, the absurdity of the truth blends seamlessly with the farce of the theoretical.

Cluedo is a droll, nostalgic piece of theatre that brings new life to an old favourite – fans are sure to appreciate, but even those only familiar with the titular boardgame will enjoy this classic caper. The comedy can’t be called clever – much of it is old-school slapstick and double entendre – but the execution means it’s thoroughly enjoyable and lands the laugh every time. It’s the kind of play that reminds you not everything needs to be intricate and complex to be a success.

It just needs to be really good fun.

Cluedo is on at the Theatre Royal Nottingham now until Saturday 5 March as part of a nationwide tour

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