Review: 'Clue' will keep you guessing

Tom Valentine
Special to the News Tribune
The cast of "Clue" poses for a photo on set.

If you think that “Clue On Stage” is based on the board game of the same name, then you are absolutely correct. If you think that you will guess the correct person, weapon, and room for the murder, you are absolutely wrong. In this stage adaptation, there are many possible solutions and even if you think the mystery is solved….it isn’t.

      As you watch the board game come to life, you think to yourself, “Clue” is the perfect fit for a stage presentation. There is the similar oddball assembly of players. The list of possible murder weapons stays the same. And the Cumberland Theater’s stage is transformed into enough of the rooms to satisfy any gamer.

      What if they made a stage show based on Monopoly?? No...too long. How about chess? Nope, too boring. Risk?? Too complicated. And don’t even think about Candy Land!

      The Cumberland Theater’s clever adaptation is a farcical delight. There are enough jokes, silliness, campiness, and groans to humor the most sophisticated patron. Plus, the audience has a fun time playing along as the show progresses.

      Clues and red herrings are dropped much more than lines during the presentation. And somehow, it all works out by final curtain.

      Congrats again to artistic director and set designer Rhett Wolford. The Boddy Manor has everything you need for a good murder mystery. The darkened stately mansion has secret passages, rare paintings, bookcases, hidden safes, fireplace, animal trophy heads, and even a suit of armor. Agatha Christie would be proud!

      The basic plot follows your typical murder mystery. It was a dark and stormy night….. no, really. With a complement of howling dogs, lightning bolts, thunder claps, and spooky organ music, the stage is set for a killer evening.

      A group of guests gather for a dinner party at the Boddy mansion. Each one is being blackmailed by their host, Mr. Boddy. That gives each one a perfect motive for murder as the lights dim and the fun begins.

      We travel from the study into the dining room, to the billiard room and kitchen, from the library back to other locales with lots of puns, bad jokes, double entendres, and sight gags.

      The actors themselves are quite a collection of quaint and colorful characters (sorry...I had to do that). A few different ones from the board game are also part of the action. Mr. Boddy (Seth Thompson) is a charismatic and despised host for the evening. Wadsworth (Matt Kurzyniec) is a suave and charming English butler. And Yvette (Rachel Lawhead) is a very French maid. Marty Jellison and Morganne Chu also appear in several different roles.

      The terrific ensemble cast works well together as a unit and is well directed by Darrell Rushton. The trouble with farce many times is that it is too far over the top and played only for laughs. These people are sincere in their characterizations….but still enjoy the tongue-in-cheek moments. They play real people, even if the situation and circumstance are unreal!

      Shawn Cox is a not too bright military man Colonel Mustard. Kimberli Rowley plays Mrs. White who has had many husbands (some her own!!). Mrs. Peacock, an eccentric and flamboyant Senator’s wife, is performed by Nicole Halmos. As Mr. Green, Bill Dennison finds himself covered with a body or two or a chandelier. Ashley Snow sparkles as Miss Scarlet almost as much as her red sequined dress . And Gregory Stuart is a pipe smoking academic (or is he??) Professor Plum.

      Matt Kurzyniec seems to be having the time of his life playing the narrator/host/butler Wadsworth. With rapid fire delivery, he zaps with many one-liners. His enthusiasm and energy are contagious. You can’t help noticing the glee he projects as he takes the audience through the action. I’m betting that as a kid, he was a real joy at Christmas time!

      Shows are slated Oct. 15, 16, 22, 23 at 8 pm. And Oct. 10, 17, 24 at 2 p.m.

      Tickets and reservations are available at www.cumberlandtheatre.com.

      No. I did not solve the murder at play’s end. And I doubt if you do either. But as the bodies start falling and people are killed, I want you to ask yourself….why am I laughing at so many murders?? Enjoy the mayhem!!

Tom Valentine is a retired theater instructor at WVU Potomac State College and has acted in and directed many productions for PSC, the Embassy Theatre, Cumberland Theatre and more.