Monday, March 20, 2023

"Clue" ★ ★ ★ BANG!

It's silly, wacky, ditzy, impossible and choreographed. "Clue" reminds us of what it was like in the good old days, before atmospheric rivers and the ocean of depression we call the morning newspaper. Susi Damilano directs a cast of familiar actors paying even more familiar roles, for those of us who remember playing the Parker Brothers' board game when we were children - and then again with our own children. Surely, our house could not have been the only one where "Colonel Mustard in the billiard room with a wrench" became a standard excuse for "Who stole the cookies?"

No, it's not a world-class drama, and there is only one gender issue (and it's a brilliant one), thank you very much. The ensemble cast remains in character even as they trail en masse through imaginary doors, walking like Egyptians and bumping into walls, as they head into room sets that the backstage crew is desperately making ready as we all watch.

Every character is guilty. Of them all, Greg Ayers is the standout, as Mr. Green the, uh, FBI agent. as are Renee Rogoff as the treacherous Mrs. White, Stacy Ross as the spacey Mrs. Peacock and Michael Gene Sullivan as the pipe-smoking Professor Plum, though on Opening Night the role was voiced by Mr Sullivan but played on stage by Albert Hodge. Now, there's a trick.

We cannot forget Dorian Lockett's role as Wadsworth the butler, though since his part did not exist in the original game we tend to dismiss him as a Newbie. Courtney Walsh plays a fetching Miss Scarlett and Michael Ray Wisely the officiously daft Colonel Mustard. Special mention to the smaller but equally enjoyable roles of Margherita Ventura and Eiko Yamamoto as Yvette the maid and the especially ominous Cook with a cleaver. The ending is a tour de force of writing and performance, leaving us with the understanding that everyone is guilty and no one is guilty and life goes on in the English mansion of all our memories, with all the secrets as well as secret passages.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Sherlock Holmes Division for Whodunits awards "Clue" Three Stars with a Bangle of Praise for the delightful conclusion. See, people, this is what we all long for. A problem: an answer. More or less.


San Francisco Playhouse

450 Post St., San Francisco

Second Floor of Kensington Park Hotel

Through April 22


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