Review, Cluedo 2, New Theatre, Cardiff by Jane Bisett

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Imagine a stormy night in a manor house on Tudor Close in 1968 and there you have it, the start of the murder mystery – Cluedo.

It all began in 1943, when Anthony Pratt challenged his wife, Elva, to create a board game. by way of alleviating the boredom between wartime air raids. Cluedo was born and subsequently turned into the internationally acclaimed murder mystery game we are still playing 75 years later in over 70 countries worldwide.

As a lover of female crime writers, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers I enjoyed the challenge that Cluedo gave me. Although the two things remained a puzzle to me, what was the motive for murder? and why was Coronal Mustard always the killer? Maybe we were just bad at shuffling the cards.

Writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran are also fans of this great game and jointly they embarked on Cluedo 2. Clearly their love of playing the game throughout their childhoods was an inspiration. The characters felt familiar and updated and had a realness about them as they emerged from the game as fully formed personalities rather the more anonymous people on the cards.

Even if, by some remote chance, you have never played or aware of the game Cluedo you will enjoy the unfolding of this who done it.

This Murder/Mystery/Comedy is utter genius, expertly directed by Mark Bell you get a real sense of the scale of the manor and the dashing from room to room.

The set, designed by David Farley, is a triumph. It first appears to be simple and minimalistic but as the play unfolds you get a sense of size and scale of the manor with the ingenious props and moving doors. Farley also designed the first stage production of Cluedo. To come up with another original set that has the ability to allow you to move with the characters from room to room was brilliant I especially enjoyed the billiard room, it was clever and funny.

This was a play in which every cast member was equally important to the plot. The first half was a bit of a slow burn which for people not familiar with the game was invaluable. However, the second half was joyful. Quick, witty and full of fun with British ‘in’ jokes, it did not disappoint.

As Cluedo is an internationally acclaimed game so are the characters. In this production there are personalities from the British isles and across the pond. This led to the discovery that English is indeed the language that separates us rather than brings us together and this was played with great humour and at times almost had a slap stick feel.

The production team of Jason Taylor (lighting designer) Jon Fiber (sound designer) and Anna Healey (movement director) brought so much to the stage. The lighting during the scene changes holds you and then suddenly you are in a different room.

Thank you to an amazing cast of actors for bringing these much loved fictional characters from our imaginations to life. They did not disappoint and gave us an evening of fun and laughter and for the first time I discovered the motive(s).

Even if you are not Cluedo aware, this play will be a great introduction and a fabulous evening out.

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