clue ntp
Photos by Sophie Campbell.

LEXINGTON PARK, Md. – There is something truly enthralling about watching a murder mystery unfold before your very eyes within the medium of theatre. The shock and surprise of it all somehow feels more visceral when consumed in real-time, rather than partaking in the banal practice of watching a film on your couch in your worn-out plaid pajamas while eating semi-burnt microwave popcorn (maybe that’s just me, though?). 

The Newtowne Players’ (NTP) newest production of the black comedy whodunnit Clue allows for the aforementioned preferred experience. 

Based on the 1985 cult hit film starring the likes of film legends Christopher Lloyd and Tim Curry, which was in turn loosely based on the famous board game of the same name, Clue tells the story of six people who are invited to a dinner party at a sequestered mansion by the mysterious Mr. Boddy. 

Photos by Sophie Campbell.

Once there, several murders take place and secrets are revealed. Along the way, there are plenty of tongue-in-cheek nods to the board game and copious amounts of physical comedy to be had. 

Set design by Parker Hughes utterly transforms the stage at the Three Notch Theater into one almost unrecognizable from its normal self. Hughes has elected to push the set to almost the back of the stage, leaving very little backstage space for the performers to escape between scenes. The result is a sprawling, ornate mansion that feels all-encompassing and exudes a refreshing sense of dimension. Careful attention is paid to the details of each of the rooms, such as the lounge, billiard room, and dining room.

The decision to use half doors for the entrance to each paid dividends in not blocking off the set depending on one’s vantage point. Hughes’ fluid set transition during Act I of the dining room felt as if it was lifted from a professional theatre. I welcome any future show in which Hughes designs the set because her work is truly a delight for the senses. 

Photos by Sophie Campbell.

Every single member of this 11-person cast goes full throttle with their energy for the entirety of the show. It’s honestly a toss-up who is having more fun – the cast or the audience. However, three actors that I found to be of particular note were Paul Rose as Colonel Mustard, Sarah Pollard as Yvette, and Steve Pugh as Mr. Green.

Rose brings his classic style of physical comedy to the role of Colonel Mustard, resulting in side-splitting laughter from the audience. One of his most notable roles in recent memory was Melvin P. Thorpe in NTP’s 2019 production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Every creative decision he makes for his character pays off immensely and serves as the comedic backbone of this production. The highlight of his performance was when a prop was accidentally left on stage, and he seamlessly incorporated it into his character so that it wouldn’t be awkwardly left for a stagehand to collect. 

Pollard crafts a refreshingly authentic, but hilarious, french maid in her portrayal of Yvette. Her cheeky style of comedy is always a joy to witness on the stage. There isn’t a moment when she drops out of her French accent, which is impressive given that theatre isn’t her full-time job. According to her bio, she spent quite a bit of time taking Duolingo French lessons, and I am happy to report that it has paid off spectacularly. 

Photos by Sophie Campbell.

Pugh’s interpretation of Mr. Green produces a character brimming with an unhealthy, but hysterical amount of timidity and an unexpected amount of sensuality that provides quite a few moments of genius physical comedy. The scene in which he shined the most was the end sequence where all was revealed. His timing in that sequence was most impeccable. 

Direction by Brandon Maher breathes a fresh perspective into a story that I thought I knew every inch of, since I’ve been a fan of the 1985 film since I was young. He keeps the story clipping by at the speed of light, but also allows for strategic pauses for the audience to collapse into hysterics at the antics happening on stage. While Maher runs a tight ship, you never feel rushed by the production because of the judicious pauses for laughter. His precise attention to detail with each of the characters creates an endless amount of little, seemingly innocuous moments that bring forth guffaws at random when they’re noticed during scenes. My favorite, in no particular order – Colonel Mustard’s “drinking” his wine from a glass with a spoon, Miss Scarlet taking a puff from her cigarette while having her hands up in front of the police, and Mr. Green and Colonel Mustard’s hilarious exchange on the couch. 

Photos by Sophie Campbell.

This show is incredibly quick-paced and, unlike some other black comedies, never veers into the tedious because of its brevity and expert direction. It feels reminiscent of a bygone era when physical comedy once reigned supreme in the theatre community but still manages to feel relevant to today’s audiences.

Between the profuse amount of humorous content and the anticipation of solving who the murderer is, NTP has designed an evening (or afternoon) that is sure to be one that you will remember for a long time. 

Photos by Sophie Campbell.

The approximate run time is 1 hour and 30 minutes with one fifteen-minute intermission.

This show contains mild innuendo, comedic violence, and alcohol references throughout. 

Clue will be playing at the Three Notch Theater at 21744 South Coral Drive, ​Lexington Park, MD 20653 through December 18th, 2022. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit their website here

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