New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – until 7th May 2022
Reviewed by Emma Millward
A new play based on the classic ‘Whodunnit’ board game (first devised in Birmingham) and the Paramount Pictures movie ‘Clue’ has quite a legacy to live up to. From the moment the audience enters the auditorium, they are greeted with the familiar sight of the ‘Hall’ and the doors leading off to the other famous room from the game.
The show starts with the introduction of Yvette the Maid (Laura Kirman) and Wadsworth the Butler (Jean-Luke Worrell). With Yvette’s faltering French/Cockney accent and Wadsworth’s eccentric but instantly amusing mannerisms, they set the scene for the silliness and madcap behaviour we can expect throughout the show.
One by one, we are introduced to the main players in the ‘game’, who are all being blackmailed by the mysterious Mr Boddy for their various indiscretions. Daniel Casey (of Midsomer Murders fame) as Professor Plum and Michelle Collins as the alluring Miss Scarlett are perfectly cast. Although a little part of me was secretly hoping there might be an Eastenders ‘duff duff’ moment at some point, as a sly nod to Michelle Collins. But that was probably just wishful thinking on my part.
The fully assembled guests then sit down for dinner and chaos ensues. This is when the clever staging of the rooms suddenly becomes apparent. Not only do the doors open, but the whole walls around them are pulled back by Wadsworth, so we can follow the cast into each adjoining room. The Cast all move props around to create the backdrop for each particular space too. It was a surprising but very clever way to keep the story moving along.
The storytelling is fast-paced, at times a little manic, but always hilarious. The tension between the main characters builds as the body count rises at Boddy Manor. The hysteria and slapstick grows along with it. Certain cast members end up being repeatedly knocked over by opening doors and thrown punches.
Special mention has to be given to Jean-Luke Worrell as Wadsworth. Having to follow in the footsteps of the amazing Tim Curry in this role is no easy feat, but he more than achieves it. His facial expressions and body movements are slick, slapstick and your eyes are definitely drawn to him. His recap of the entire play in just a few minutes towards the end of the show really is a sight to behold. I will never hear the name ‘Larry’ in the same way again!
Whodunnit? Well, that would be telling! You will just have to go and see the show while it is still in Birmingham until the 7th May.