Michelle Collins (left) heads a talented cast in this crazy and rather silly whodunnit. All pictures: Craig Sugden

Review: Cluedo is a whodunnit full of silliness, mayhem and murder!

Alan Wooding reviews Cluedo at Milton Keynes Theatre

Monday 30 May 2022

During the 1970s when our daughters were still at the baby stage, we would regularly meet up with friends who were in the same situation to play various board games… and one of those was Cluedo!

So last night at Milton Keynes Theatre I was somewhat intrigued as to how a whodunnit-style board game – which can have as many as 324 possible different outcomes! – could possibly be adapted for the stage.

I needn't have worried for all the usual suspects were there under the slick guidance of Mischief Theatre's The Play That Goes Wrong director Mark Bell whose adaptation of Cluedo is obviously influenced by the 1985 American black comedy Clue which starred Tim Curry.

The action takes place in 1949 – the year the board game was released – in the spooky Boddy Manor (with its library, billiard room, conservatory, etc, plus those secret passages) while the six feature characters have all been invited there by the mysterious Lord Boddy.

On arrival each guest receives an alias and then a box containing a potential murder weapon (a candlestick, revolver, lead piping, etc) and they're told not to reveal who they really are. Then as the night progressed, the secrets and motives are revealed one by one while the body count mounts… it's all reminiscent of one of those 1970s Whitehall farces from the late Brian Rix!

The jokes and mishaps certainly come thick and fast and while obviously I can't go too deeply into the plot or its outcome, former EastEnder Michelle Collins makes a sassy and sarcastic Miss Scarlett, owner of a Soho escort agency, while Wesley Griffith is the hapless, moustache twiddling Colonel Mustard.

Meanwhile I loved Judith Amsenga's portrayal of an increasingly inebriated Mrs Peacock while added to that is a slapstick performance from Tom Babbage as the calamity-prone Reverend Green. Standing in for Daniel Casey (Midsummer Murders) on Monday night was Harry Bradley as a believable but dotty Professor Plum while Mrs White is played by Etisyai Philip, a equally strange character.

However the character you can't forget is Boddy Manor's creepy and sinister butler Wadsworth superbly portrayed by Jean-Luke Worrell who is the linchpin of the show. Then there's Laura Kirman as a French maid Yvette whose dreadful accent is reminiscent of Officer Crabtree, the policeman played by Arthur Bostrom in television's 'Allo 'Allo! The pair certainly make the most of some ludicrous situations.

Completing the cast – who all seem to love playing for laughs – and integrally key to this mixed up plot are Meg Travers and Liam Horrigan in a range of roles including the Manor House's Cook and the mysterious Lord Boddy himself.

If there was one criticism, then I felt the Second Act wasted too much time with people running around what is an extremely clever and impressive set, slamming doors and bumping into one another. With a large central hallway, there are nine doors plus various pull-out rooms all designed by David Farley but the whole cast are to be applauded as Cluedo is great entertainment… but that's only as long as you enjoy watching what is quite honestly a rather silly theatrical farce.

Cluedo plays Milton Keynes Theatre until this Saturday with tickets from the Box Office on 0844 871 7652 or online at www.atgtickets.com/MiltonKeynes (booking fees apply).