Who Drops a Murder Weapon?

By Rachele Stoops

Beatrice Community Players, Friday February 11, 2022 7:30PM

A kid can learn a lot from a board game.

Especially when that board game was created in England in 1943, and the vocabulary is a little different than what you might run into playing Candyland or Chutes and Ladders. Scarlet? Conservatory? Billiards? All fascinating new vocabulary that made a sometimes dull board game a little more fun. (Admit it, sometimes you just peeked in the envelope and moved on to something else.)

The 1984 movie turned that game board into a dark romp that became a cult classic, watched and rewatched at high school drama parties for decades. Community Players’ production of Clue: On Stage is as rompy as the movie, with added touches that make it their own. 

At first glance, the set for the show is a throwback to traditional staging, with the stage turned into a large room and flats transformed into walls with some clever painting and detail. Like much of this play, though, all is not what it seems, as the walls that appear solid begin to slide into different positions and deliver the characters – and the audience – into the rest of the (weirdly named) rooms in the Clue mansion. 

Clue is truly an ensemble play, and each member of this production’s cast excelled at their role. Standouts for me were Wadsworth, the crafty butler with the impossible to place accent, and Yvette, the perfect French maid stereotype. The house staff, the invited guests with the colorful pseudonyms, and the ensemble players work together in painstakingly choreographed rhythm. There are a lot of moving parts in this play, and it’s obvious that director Tyler Rinne plans every minute detail. 

The guests, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green, Mrs. White, Miss Scarlett, and Mrs. Peacock, arrive at the house on a rainy night, each claiming not to know why they were invited. 

The guests are mingling awkwardly when a surprise cameo appearance sparks the action that doesn’t stop until the end of the play. 

Here the set’s levels are used to great effect, and the action – and set moving – doesn’t really stop until the end. 

The story moves relentlessly through the mansion’s rooms, which means a lot of work for the tech crew. Some of the transitions were a little rough, but Rinne added some fancy distractions to keep the audience’s eyes on the players and not the moving pieces. I appreciated that characters who shouldn’t break character to help move set pieces in the blackout didn’t, and the dance moments were especially charming.

The ensemble as a whole worked smoothly. Matt Osmotherly as the multi-talented butler, Wadsworth, displayed an impressive number of skills, and handled both the mad pacing and the physical comedy with just the right touch. Yvette, played by Marissa Saure, was adorable as the stereotypical French maid. Mr. Green was portrayed by Mason Gustafson, who delivered his laugh-out-loud lines with perfect timing. 

The costumes were just right, especially Professor Plum’s purple velvet jacket, which should live in my closet.

When filming the movie Clue, the director wanted to give audiences the feel of the board game, so he shot three possible endings. Viewers watching the movie at home (on VHS!!!) got to see all three endings sequentially, and the play version concludes similarly. The characters rewind and replay possible conclusions to the mystery, which adds a little farce feeling to this whodunit. 

There are more than enough laughs to keep you in the game, and you really don’t want to miss this classic detective game-turned-show!

Also, today I learned that the game is called Cluedo in the rest of the world!! My childhood was a lie. 

If you go: Clue: On Stage, Community Players, 412 Ella Street, Beatrice. https://www.beatricecommunityplayers.com

The show runs two weekends: February 12, 18, 19 at 7:30pm, and February 13 and 20 at 2:00pm. 

Masks are currently required for all attendees.

Dr. Rachele Stoops teaches English and dispenses wisdom and cookies at Graduation Pathways with Lincoln Public Schools. When she’s not teaching, she is usually listening to true crime podcasts and working on a new side hustle. Rachele shares a townhouse with her very patient husband, her very curvy chihuahua, and many pairs of shoes.

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