CLUE: the Play, SF


CLUE: the Review
by Sister Dana Van Iquity

from the BAY TIMES 07/09/04

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There’s a new show in a new venue in town, CLUE: the Play, based on the cult classic movie and the board game that many an amateur sleuth in his or her youth used to play. As any true Clue enthusiast would expect, the action takes place in the Hall, the Study, the Lounge, the Conservatory, the Ballroom, the Billiard Room, the Dining Room and the Kitchen—many of which are reached through secret passageway. In actuality there are only two physical rooms, but the imagination stretches enough to believe the action shifts from scene to scene and room to room. The play is housed in the brand new Dark Room on Mission Street between 18th & 19th. And of course the anticipated murder weapons make their appearance—the Wrench, the Rope, the Candlestick, the Lead Pipe, the Revolver, and the Knife.

The usual suspects are involved in the dastardly deed, although there are more corpses than the customary singular body in the board game. Wadsworth the butler (Jack Daniel, who is recently of the sadly defunct Spanganga Theater) acts as host to the guests at the mansion. There is a very gruff and macho Colonel Mustard (Johnny A. Smith, also of Spanganga fame and other shows); a fussy, fidgety and overly dramatic Mrs. White (Nancy Bower, who worked with Spanganga before it closed its doors, along with other credits); and trey fey Mr. Green (Sean McGinn, who started the all-gay improv group Boys in the Bathroom and co-founded Uphill Both Ways); the overly excitable Mrs. Peacock (Dave McKew, a shaved and shorn bear in hideously delightful drag, who used to be in the Cornell University SKITS-O-PHRENICS and helped found Uphill Both Ways—which is working on its next show Tortoise Attraction this summer in Union Square); a scintillating, scandalous and salacious Miss Scarlet (the very sexy Jacinta Tobin, which acting background in Ireland and Australia, and a US commercial for tampons where she got to jog, skate and play tennis); and a rather randy Professor Plum (Peter Doty of San Francisco Cacophony Society, whose recent claim to fame was first prize in the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. Easter bonnet contest for his chocolate fondue chapeau. Delicious!) The night after opening Doty was understudied by the show’s producer / director Cameron Eng, whose dream since high school was to direct CLUE. Also at the mansion was Yvette the sometimes French maid (Maura Sipila, who is an accomplished singer as well as actress, and yes there ARE occasional vocals in this particular peculiar production); Mr. Body (David Robson, who is not just a corpse but a writer brining to the Dark Room his 1952 exotica noir piece Macao, coming November); and the Cook (Micah Pilkington, another alumnus from Spanganga—and don’t we wish that venue was still around?!). By the way, this is a brown bag theater, so if you want a cocktail during the show, you bring your own.

This is a very, very over-the-top production, so if you were expecting A.C.T. you’d better haul haull you’re A.S.S. over to an uptown theatre, sweetie-darling. The acting is purposely melodramatic, loud and brash, and not the least bit subtle. The characters, like the movie, are larger than life—and in some cases death. You probably won’t figure out the ending, because each night the audience votes ahead of time who they would like the murderer to be. Warning; if you are afraid of pitch dark, there are several instances of blackout. If you sit in the front row, you are liable to have a corpse collapse at your feet. And you will NOT be allowed a bath-room break during this hour-long mystery, so go before the show begins or prepare to keep your legs tightly crossed. I might suggest wearing Depends, because you are quite liable to pee your own pants with laughter.

These homicidal houseguests prove to have government-related peccadilloes in their past, and all are being blackmailed for their bad behavior. On this dark and stormy night, there is nothing else to do but eliminate the nasty stranger who has been bankrupting their bankroll. But who-dunnit? And why did they done do it to so many? These and other curious questions may or may not be answered to your satisfaction. But if you’re such an expert private eye, why don’t you go try to uncover a funnier, cornier bit of mystery theater and manic melodrama?! I challenge you! Get a clue!!!

The play is housed in the brand new Dark Room 2263 Mission Street, between 18th & 19th, Firdays and Saturdays @ 8pm, running June 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19. Tickets are $16 at the door and $12.50 online at www.acteva.com/go/impprod.

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