By George Maguire
When I returned home from the SF Playhouse and their energetic, almost frenetic production of Clue, I immediately ransacked my closet and found (ta da!) my own Parker Brothers original version of the game.
I doubt there is anyone who has not played this fun and inventive game sometime in their life. With over 350 scenarios, it’s been translated into numerous other languages.
Among the suspects, we all had favorites—for me, usually Miss Scarlet or Professor Plum. Its popularity engendered a 1985 film starring Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan and Christopher Lloyd. A Broadway musical followed in 1997, then a Broadway play in 2018, revised in 2022 with additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price
All six of our suspects are here: Miss Scarlet (a ravishing Courtney Walsh), Colonel Mustard (a perfectly befuddled Michael Ray Wisely), Professor Plum (a leering Michael Gene Sullivan), Mr. Green (a primly proper Greg Ayers), Mrs. White (a diabolical Rene Rogoff) and finally Mrs. Peacock (an inspired piece of casting with the versatile Stacy Ross).
Add a butler (Dorian Lockett), a French maid (Margherita Ventura), a Mr. Body, a tapping messenger girl, and a police captain (Will Springhorn Jr.) with more accents than all the others put together, plus his cohorts, and you have hilarity in the making.
All six suspects are being blackmailed for their secrets and have received invitations to a very private dinner party without knowing one another. The banquet begins, and as in Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, the bodies pile up.
There’s one more big star: designer Heather Kenyon’s amazing set. This masterpiece of invention is in itself a suspect, and a hiding place that brings to us every room and hallway from the game. Suddenly we are in the numerous rooms and lounges where the action enfolds. Bravo Ms. Kenyon!
Director Susi Damilano has a blast putting this cast of characters into gyrating and tip-toeing terpsichorean romps of entrances and exits across the stage in beams and bars from Derek Duarte’s lights.
The last fifteen minutes are a roundelay of imagined possibilities as the suspects argue which was the real way the story and murders progressed.
Once you have seen the play, I urge you to see the film, available on Netflix. You’ll recognize the conceit drummed exhaustingly at us. By the end a galloping “Whew!” is sparked in the audience.
Go and have a laughingly good time at the Playhouse. After ninety minutes you’re on your way home—maybe to play the game yourself!
ASR Contributing Writer George Maguire is a San Francisco based actor and director. and a voting member of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. He is a Professor Emeritus of Solano College. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Written by||Sandy Rustin.
With additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price,
Based on a screenplay by Jonathan Lynn.
|Directed by||Susi Damilano|
|Producing Company||San Francisco Playhouse|
|Production Dates||Mar 9-Apr 22, 2023|
|Production Address||SF Playhouse
450 Post Street
San Francisco, CA
|Tickets||$30 - $|
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review Pick?||----|
|"... the show is absolutely fun; light and silly and full of entertaining moments."||www.broadwayworld.com/|
|"At S.F. Playhouse’s ‘Clue,’ everyone’s guilty — of having a good time"||San Francisco Chronicle|
|"...this is a drop-dead, bonafide beauty of a black comedy. It’s guaranteed to produce thrills, chills, goosebumps and uncontrollable laughter for the entire 90 minutes of its uninterrupted mayhem."||Chicago Theatre Review|
|"...the show is a very fun, very silly 1950s-set whodunit..."||The New York Times|