Played for laughs, ‘Classic Mystery Game’ proves you can’t go wrong with game night
- Written by Tina Farmer
If you’re a fan of board games, heck if you’ve ever played a board game, you are likely familiar with the popular mystery game Clue®. And, if you’re not familiar with the game, you may have seen the 1985 movie written by Jonathan Lynn, which is based on the board game. Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble puts all the clues together in a hilarious caper that does both the game and the comically excessive movie justice while providing a wildly entertaining, laugh out loud evening of theater.
The premise of “Classic Mystery Game” is simple, even if the outcome is potentially uncertain. At the beginning of the show, and following the rules of the game, Wadsworth, a slightly pretentious butler with a flare for accents and impersonation, has three members of the audience pick a card to be placed in an envelope until the show’s denouement. The first card indicates the location of the murder, the second specifies the weapon used and the third reveals the murderer.
Soon the invited dinner guests arrive and are informed that they have all been called here to answer to their blackmailer, Mr. Boddy. Cocktails and a meal are served, protestations of innocence and snarky comments are exchanged and bodies keep dropping like flies as the nefarious host, various members of the staff and other incidental characters are killed off. Presumably by one of the invited guests. The playful story is delivered with exaggerated and affected aplomb and accompanied by continual laughter.
Cassidy Flynn delights with an air of mischievous superiority as Wadsworth. The character is always a step ahead of everyone else and he revels in his position, often with a giggle over his shoulder to the audience. Kristen Storm plays dumb and sexy as the maid Yvette, but she’s sharp and knows more than she’s willing to share with the guests. Reginald Pierre is perfectly villainous, with just the right dismissive sneer and smooth comebacks, as Mr. Boddy; I only wish his character was in the show more.
Carl Overly, Jr. is brash and punctilious as Colonel Mustard, with a hint of an excited boy peeking out every now and again. Ellie Schwetye is uppity and snobbish as Mrs. White, and she’s yet another character that’s much closer to the secrets of the other characters than she first lets on. Rachel Tibbetts is chirpy, oddly logical and endearing as the flighty Mrs. Peacock, so much so that popsicles should be offered during intermission. Will Bonfiglio goes from geeky and reserved to bold superhero as Mr. Green, Paul Cereghino is a smoldering enigma as Professor Plum and Maggie Conroy's Miss Scarlet slinks and sashays her way around the set, the other actors and just about anything she wants to wind around her finger without losing her sassy wit. Marcy Ann Wiegert and Bess Moynihan complete the cast in multiple roles, dying and darting around in fabulously comic fashion.
“Classic Mystery Game” is a spectacle of heightened reality with a whirlwind story that’s as entertaining as it is silly, and always fun to watch. A tribute to childhood nostalgia and over-the-top comedy capers, the many jokes incorporate references to specific scenes and tropes in the movie. A light up game board backdrop and two-sided set pieces on wheels, designed by Moynihan, silly running gags (literally) and the tendency to occasionally strike a pose like a cardboard game piece all add to the mayhem. Liz Henning’s costumes clearly denote each of the game’s characters and are accented with clever props by Moynihan and Tibbetts. Original music by Cereghino adds the perfect finishing touch to the witty pandemonium of the show. And, though she’s never seen on stage, the sure guidance and whip smart comic sensibilities of director Katy Keating are as clear as if she were standing in the center like a ringmaster commanding the spectacle.
The show is, in fact, a comic circus of sorts, paying tribute to the fun of the board game and the campy excess of the 1985 movie. If you are looking for a genuine comedy that the whole family can enjoy or just a fun night out with friends or a date, “Classic Mystery Game,” continuing through February 16 at Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble, is an excellent choice. Director Keating, a talented cast with a commitment to over-the-top comedy, and a fun story with plentiful laughs ensure this show is a winner for everyone who plays along.