Andy Howells attends the first show of Newport Playgoers 2022-23 season at Newport’s Dolman Theatre, Clue!
Following a minute silence to remember Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the curtain rose on the stage of Newport’s Dolman Theatre shortly after 7.15pm on Wednesday evening to welcome the first of a new season of plays for Newport Playgoers Society.
Sandy Rustin’s stage adaptation of Clue, based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn and inspired by the Hasbro game, Cluedo is no doubt a challenge for any cast and crew to present. Frantic, fun and at times farcical, the script requires the cast to be on the ball, not only with their own dialogue and movement, but also with one another. Thankfully, director Lynn Phillips and her team have done Clue proud, not only by selecting a fun cast, but also by keeping the laughs coming with a changeable set that flows from scene to scene allowing the script to move without any pauses.
Miss Scarlett (Rachel Dalton), Mrs Peacock (Moira Mainwaring), Mrs White (Emma McCarthy), Colonel Mustard (Nathan Hodge), Professor Plum (Chris Cox) and Mr Green (Keith Poultney) have all been summoned to Boddy Manor by the mysterious Mr Boddy (Stuart Fouweather). However, upon the guest’s arrival, they are greeted by the Butler, Wadsworth (James Reynolds), the trusty French maid, Yvette (Hannah Minton) and a Cook (Dylan Secker), who seems to have motive for murder on the menu. Nothing is what it seems and when each guest is presented with a weapon including a candlestick, revolver, rope, dagger, lead piping and a wrench, the bodies start piling up in every location from the Billiard Room to the Library.
While murder is a deadly matter, Clue has an abundance of laughs with subtly placed double-entendres and wonderfully timed reactions from the cast, who are having fun with script and performance as they creep around the manor looking for clues. And they take the audience with them every step of the way. I am surrounded by hearty belly laughs from other audience members as Miss Scarlett is chased by the lecherous Colonel Mustard and when Mrs White screams and uncharacteristically somersaults across the floor. There is no row in the theatre that is untouched by uncontrollable giggling even when Wadsworth frantically reels off his accusations as to who the murderer could be or when Mr Green is nearly impaled in slow motion by a falling chandelier.
The hilarity doesn’t stop with the central cast either, Darian Thomas steals a few scenes with his appearance as an incompetent policeman, while you are guaranteed to be wanting more from Holly Dawes all to brief appearance as a Singing Telegram Girl (but the laughter pay-off at her scene climax is undoubtedly worth it).
If you missed the UK tour of Clue earlier this year, or indeed would love to see the show again, you really can’t go far wrong by catching the Newport Playgoers presentation. Comedy at its best and a cracking show to start the new season with. The bar has been raised!