The pounding of Hurricane Ian outside the theater gave new meaning to the trope, “it was a dark and stormy night…” But in true show spirit, the opening night of Clue at the Cary Arts Center went on as planned. Adapted from the screenplay and 1985 film written by Johnathan Lynn, and inspired by the popular Hasbro board game, this whodunnit is a campy, clever murder romp.
Six guests have been invited to dinner at Boddy Manor and given aliases for the evening. Their host has been blackmailing them, but then turns up dead. Soon, more bodies, and the madcap search for a murderer begins.
The butler, Wadsworth, played with an abundant amount of witty humor by Tim Poliquin, acts as the emcee of this entertaining crime melodrama. He literally leads the group around the stage and through the aisles of the auditorium during scene changes to accent the supposedly immense size of Boddy Manor. And Polquin’s masterful display of recreating the night’s events is one of the production’s high points.
Director Mike McGee has assembled a talented cast that leans into the comic novelty of their characters, from the overblown French accent of the maid (Katrina Bolaños) to the jumpy anxiousness of Mr. Green (Ted Willis). Benji Jones portrays Mrs. Peacock, the wife of a U.S. Senator, as a slightly tipsy southern hostess with a great amount of zest and hilarity. Nick Popio creates a Colonel Mustard that is blustery but a bit dim.
Shana Fischer as Mrs. White offers a humorously seductive many-times-a-widow portrayal while Sarah Richardson (Miss Scarlett) drops comic sexual innuendos with casual ease. As Professor Plum, Aaron Young acts stereotypical professorial, complete with pipe. Robert Richardson and Teal Lepley add to the roster of peripheral characters by executing multiple roles with abundant flair.
Jon Dietz’s sliding set design effectively transports the audience and these characters, or their bodies, to various rooms throughout the sprawling manor. With a frothy style that allows the petty plot machinations to have a front-and-center place, this play teems with one-liners and sight gags. Perhaps the pace could have been a bit more frenetic to contribute to some of the nonsensical elements of a board game coming to life, but it remains an entertaining murder mystery adventure with a surprisingly single ending.
Clue runs through October 9. For more information visit https://caryplayers.org/.
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