Saturday, October 1, 2022

Millbrook: "Clue on Stage"

First, there is Clue -- the Hasbro board game, a whodunnit, in which players are meant to figure out whether a murder was committed by Miss Scarlet-with a wrench-in the dining room, or by Col. Mustard-with a rope-in the study, know the drill. This was followed by Clue, the Musical, Clue, the Movie, and now showing in Millbrook is Clue on Stage which was adapted in 2018 from Jonathan Lynne's screenplay, though it is not a slavish replication of it.

Played largely for laughs by an ensemble company of twelve actors, and filled with every stereotypical cliche of the genre, director Brady Walker capitalizes on the text as given: characters trapped in a mysterious country house, a storm, a conniving host, a supercilious butler, a contrived challenge to the guests, and multiple murders, to provide audiences with an evening's entertainment.

The dinner party guests are greeted by the butler Wadsworth [Brandon Shearin] and a French maid Yvette [Tammy Arvidson]; each is given an alias and sworn to secrecy, and we find out that each is being blackmailed by their host, Mr. Boddy [Kaden Blackburn], who offers them a way out: either pay him double, or kill the butler with a weapon for each as a gift.

In a 30-minute Act I, we see Mr. Green [Eric Arvidson], Mrs. White [Bre Gentry], Mrs. Peacock [Tammy Lee], Professor Plum [Dean Miller], Miss Scarlet [Taryn Watkins], and Col. Mustard [Scott Rouse] try to outwit one another without exposing their own secrets until first Mr. Boddy and then the Cook [Amy Lynn Miller] are both murdered. -- Act II serves to unravel the plot and discover the guilty party.

Of course, not everything is what it seems, and there are several "red herrings" along the way. A few twists by the end [a singing telegram [Maggie Kervin] and a stranded motorist [Gage Parr] add to the mix], do resolve the conflict with the help of one character's divulging their actual identity.

The detailed set provides an effective atmosphere, and costumes by Angie Mitchell describe each character in turn, but all-too-frequent straight-line staging looks awkward, and much tentative dialogue makes important information hard to hear, and clever jokes and double-entendre fall flat.

That notwithstanding, the audience seemed to enjoy themselves as they embarked on the familiar Clue journey.