Cluedo – Review – Sheffield Lyceum Theatre
By Helen Johnston, May 2022
Cluedo is a family favourite at Christmas in our house, that traditional time for board games to be dusted off and used as a way of gathering everyone round for a bit of competitive fun. There’s always a sense of achievement when you’re the one who cracks the mystery: “It was Rev Green in the library with the candlestick!”
So, we were ready to get involved in a bit of amateur sleuthing as the game was brought to life on the stage. All the essential ingredients were there, the six characters distinguishable by their colours – Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett, Prof Plum, Rev Green, Mrs White and Mrs Peacock – each assigned a present of a potential weapon, the spanner, the candlestick, the revolver, the lead pipe, the rope and the dagger.
They all assembled in the hallway of a house, its many doors leading off into all those rooms where a murder could take place. Some clever moving walls gave us a hint of what lay behind the doors – the library, the study, the kitchen, the lounge.
The guests arrived one by one and were greeted by the butler Wadsworth (Jean-Luke Worrell) as some very realistic-sounding thunder and lightning added that essential element of horror to the mix.
The scene was set for what was billed as a ‘hilarious whodunnit’ but unfortunately the hilarious bit was missing. Yes, there were some laughs, mainly in the second half, but the comedy was laboured and a lot of the jokes fell flat. It wasn’t a full house and in the first half there was only the occasional murmur of laughter from a few audience members.
The exchange between Mrs Peacock asking the maid (who was pretending to be French for some unexplained reason) if there was a little girls’ room, and the maid answering “Oui, oui” only for Mrs Peacock to reply “No I just want to powder my nose”, was like something out of a 1970s sitcom. If the maid (Laura Kirman) was only French for the purposes of that joke then, really, it wasn’t worth it.
We had Mrs White (Etisyai Philip) standing over Mrs Peacock when she fainted repeating “Mrs Peacock” over and over again, which was irritating, not funny. Then the same thing when Miss Scarlett and Col Mustard said “odd” to each other far too many times. Then yet again when the butler kept repeating the name “Larry” to Rev Green, which only managed to raise a bit of a laugh because he was using his white-gloved hand like a sock puppet at the same time.
“Great visual moments”
The biggest laugh came from an unscripted moment when the investigating policeman’s false moustache fell off while he was speaking, and actor Harry Bradley quickly ad-libbed “It took me ages to grow that.” If I were him I’d keep that in the script for next time.
The usually accomplished Michelle Collins of Eastenders fame was disappointing as Miss Scarlett, never really earning her top billing as she just hammed it up along with the rest of them. Midsomer Murders’ Daniel Casey didn’t really distinguish himself as Prof Plum either.
It was Jean-Luke Worrell who carried the whole thing as the balletic butler, twirling in and out of rooms as he led the guests on a merry dance, and then delivering an astonishingly fast recap of events in a monologue towards the end, before finally revealing whodunnit.
There were some great visual moments, such as the chandelier falling in slow motion on to Rev Green (Tom Babbage), and various tableaux scenes of all the characters at the dining table looking like they were attacking each other. Overall though, it was a question of who murdered the comedy with a lame script in the theatre?