Photos by Joel T. Lahey
|Elijah Jones as Wadsworth; |
Zhen E. Rammelsberg as Mrs. Ho
Clue: The Play is based on the movie of the same name. The movie, while not very successful commercially, became a cult classic. I approached the play version with some excitement - I consider the movie one the funniest films I've ever seen. It's based on the board game, so as characters we have Mr. Green and Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard. There are a few additional characters not in the game - the butler Wadsworth being the most instrumental to the evening. He guides the action as we learn that all of the guests are there because they're being blackmailed by Mr. Boddy. And then - no surprise - Boddy is murdered and what follows is madcap mayhem as the guests try to figure out "who done it."
I was excited to see how RHCR would translate the movie to the stage, with all of the challenges and opportunities live theatre affords. Unfortunately, this isn't a production that embraces those stage possibilities, but rather one that tries to slap the movie onto the stage, leaving it to pale in comparison to the original. At one point, they play a video of the show's actors performing scenes they couldn't fit on stage. All this does is remind us of the professionally made movie version of this show. We came to see a live theatrical production. It would have been better if they'd used some of the conventions of theatre to show these scenes.
I will say the set (designed by Matt Ford, with Keith Diefenderfer) was impressive. All of the rooms we'd expect are arrayed on the stage and in the space in front of the stage. They are separated by half walls and have half doors, allowing the audience to see into each room while still dividing one room from another. It gives the suggestion of the board from the game, which is a nice touch. More choices like this would have really helped the show.
One choice that didn't really work was using an actor dressed from head to toe in a black skintight outfit to act as the murderer and kill the unfortunate individuals who happen to show up at the house. For the movie, they could do a closeup on the killings and so not show the killer, leaving the audience in suspense. On stage, we'd see the killer, so this actor in black took the actual killer's place, preserving the mystery. Unfortunately, it wasn't immediately clear what was happening with the actor in black. I figured it out, but I think I was helped by the fact that I knew the movie and could put two and two together.
|Bryant Duffy as Mr. Green|
The tempo of the show lagged in the first act. The dialogue needed to be quicker and the actions more precise. Consequently, a lot of the humorous lines and actions didn't land. The second act was better, particularly when Wadsworth was rushing everyone around the stage. His energy really moved the show forward to a funny conclusion. I also really appreciated that they chose to stage all three endings. Hopefully, the tempo will go up a notch or two as the production continues through the weekend.
Overall, I think there are a lot of missed opportunities in this production, choices that could have embraced what makes live theatre an exciting and intimate creative experience. Still, there's a lot of madcap fun in the show and if you're looking to see what the movie looks like on stage, this production will satisfy that desire. It runs through Sunday. Information available at the RHCR website.